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How Banaras Hindu University turned into a hotbed of politics, unrest

Most of the BHU teachers have definite political leanings which ensures that the government does not take action against them

Thursday December 5, 2019 12:15 PM, IANS

About BHU

Varanasi: The Banaras Hindu University (BHU), once known for its academic excellence, has now turned into a hotbed of politics and anarchy.

Established in 1961 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, BHU is now at war with itself. Frequent and recurrent student agitations have marred the academic atmosphere in the institution in recent years.

Teachers are provoking students

A former BHU student Avadhesh Mathur, said, "Unrest in BHU is a result of the constant ideological clashes that take on a casteist colour with faculty members getting students to fight their battles for them."

He said that in most agitations, it is a section of teachers that has provoked students on non-issues and then allowed them to continue with violence.

Political leanings of BHU staff

Majority of the teachers in BHU have definite political leanings which ensures that the government in power does not take action against them.

A former faculty member said, "The ongoing agitation against the appointment of a Muslim professor in the Sanskrit department is a result of some teachers provoking students. How else can you explain the fact that a fortnight after the agitation ended, students are back on protest?"

Similarly, in September, 2017, BHU witnessed a prolonged student agitation over a minor eve-teasing incident and led to violence on the campus. The issue subsided only after the then vice chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi proceeded on pre-retirement leave.

Strong Socialist Presence

Another BHU old-timer and senior Samajwadi leader Anjana Prakash said, "It is sad to see what the BHU has been reduced to. It was ranked as the third best educational institution in the country but today, it is making news for all the wrong reasons. This is certainly not the BHU I have lived with and known".

The BHU student force comes mainly from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. There is a strong socialist presence among the students but the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the ruling BJP, is also gaining strength on the campus.

A student, Ragini, said, "Most of the student leaders in BHU are aspiring politicians, backed by their ideological groups. They have virtually no interest in academics and want to create trouble and then lead the trouble. Whether it was the 2017 violence or the recent agitation against the Muslim professor, there have been vested interests that have fuelled agitation on the campus."

Ideological Differences

The ideological differences between teachers and students, sources claim, translate into a caste war invariably.

Most of the Brahmin faculty members were promoting the agitation against the appointment of the Muslim professor and then went on to demand the resignation of the BHU vice chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar, a non-Brahmin.

Since BHU is a central university and Varanasi is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency, the local administration handles such situations with kid gloves.

"The police already faced a lot of criticism when it tried to rein in protesting students in 2017. Since majority of the protesters were girls, we were accused of misbehaving with them," said a senior police officer who was then posted in Varanasi.

Presence of 'outsiders

Another factor that makes BHU very susceptible to trouble is the fact that there is a large presence of 'outsiders' on the campus.

"Young boys from other institutions infiltrate, attend classes, even stay in the hostels and participate in unlawful activities because they face no threat of rustication. Despite our requests, the BHU administration makes no efforts to throw out such elements and maintain an academic atmosphere," said a former proctor.

Anjana Prakash said that in recent years, there had been no upgradation of teaching methodology and courses.

"Students in BHU are not being channelised in the right direction and they end up utilising their energy in uncalled for activities. BHU must move with changing times and introduce courses that are linked to employment. This will make students focus on studies because it will given them a sense of job security too.

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