Condemning Police Action on Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU)

Condemning Police Action on Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU)

Condemning Police Action on Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU)

To,

Shri. Ram Nath Kovind

Honourable President of India and Ex-Officio Visitor of Central Universities,
Government of India

Shri. Narendra Modi
Hon’able Prime Minister of India and Member Parliament, Varanasi,
Government of India

Shri. Yogi Adityanath
Hon’able Chief Minister
State of Uttar Pradesh, Government of U.P.

 

We strongly condemn the university authorities and the brutal police action on students sitting on a strike since 22nd of September protesting against the sexual harassment within the campus premise. The protest of the students was brutally crushed as police forces lathi charged and injured students on the night of 23 September.  The police entered the university campus and the girls hostels and dragged girls out and assaulted them. They used tear gas and rubber bullets were used on the unarmed students. Even those students sitting on hunger strike were not spared.

What is even more appalling is the response of the state and University administration to the public outrage against this barbaric act. The Vice Chancellor has reacted to this incident of peaceful protest by forcibly shutting down all girls hostels till October 2nd and literally throwing the girls out. Hostel administration have been instructed to call guardians of the girls to mention that the hostels are shut down and that anyone who stays back should do that at their own risk, University administration will not be responsible.

This is a complete failure of the Vice Chancellor of the University to protect students and their rights to free speech. The administration has miserably failed to respond institutionally to an incident as grave as sexual harassment. Instead it has responded by unleashing violence on peaceful and non-violent protestors and choosing to crush the constitutional rights of students of free speech and expression.

We demand immediate action be taken against the police for the brutal act, suspension of the SP/DIG, judicial enquiry of the event and meeting the demands of the students and ensure their treatment and safety. We demand accountability of the University authorities as students are living and studying within the University premises and their safety has to be guaranteed by the head of the institution.

This protest was spurred off by a recent incident that happened in evening of 21st, when a student was on her way back to the hostel from the department.

She was stopped and harassed by some unidentified individuals inside the campus. When this incident happened, the girl immediately reached out to the security personnel posted nearby the spot. They refused to help and instead told her that it was her fault as she was roaming around on the road after dark. The incident happened around 6 pm in the evening. She went back to her hostel and shared her plight with her fellow students. The students decided to complain to the Dean of Student, but there also the girls were turned away saying that it was their problem and they need to be careful and not be outdoors after dark.

This is however, not an isolated incident, as students of BHU have been constantly raising issues of gender-based discrimination in the hostels since the last one year. They have been complaining of curfew timings in hostels, discriminatory food in the hostel, where girls are only offered vegetarian food whereas boys hostels are constantly serving non-vegetarian food. Girls are also subjected to discriminatory polices, such as forcing them to sign affidavits that restricts them to participate in any agitation or protest, whereas boys are made to do no such thing.

Since the morning of 22nd of September, more than 1000 girls gathered in front of the main gate of BHU and protesting against the insensitive attitude of the administration, especially the Vice Chancellor of the University. The student who was subjected to the harassment, shaved her head at the protest venue and joined the agitation. They demand for equal space and rights. The students demand for:

1.     Ensure strict legal action against those responsible for the harassment faced by the student concerned

2.     Make provisions of lighting up all the dark zones and spots of the University campus

3.     Continuous patrolling of security guards

4.     Gender sensitization of administrative staff and teaching faculty

5.     Provision for hostels for girls

6.     Abolition of curfew timings in girls hostels

7.     Formation of Gender Sensitization and Sexual Harassment Committee

8.     Recruitment of women security personnel

9.     Inclusion of female functionaries in Proctorial board

10. Equality in food offered in hostels of boys and girls

11. Installation of CCTV cameras in prominent spots

We demand immediate action be taken against the brutal police act and setting up of judicial enquiry of this event. We demand that the requirements put down by the students are met immediately.

 

In Solidarity with the students of BHU,

 

Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, MKSS

Abha Bhaiya, Jagori

Prof. Apoorvanand, Delhi University

Prof. Satish Deshpande, Delhi University

Prof. Nivedita Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Prof. Shoba Ghosh, Mumbai University

Dr. Mary E John, Centre for Women Studies

Prof. Rajni Palriwala, Delhi University

Dr. Brinda Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Harsh Mander

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

Arundhuri Dhuru, NAPM

Monoj Mitta, Journalist and Author

Dr. Dilip Simeon

Mukul Mangalik, University of Delhi

Panchali Ray, Jadavpur University, Kolkata

Vijay Pratap

Avinash Kumar

Maya Krishna Rao

Rita Manchanda

Virginia Saldanha, Mumbai

Niti Saxena, Lucknow

Shampa Sengupta, Disabilities and Gender Rights Activists, Kolkata

Susie Tharu, Hyderabad

Madhu Bhushan, Bangalore

Rakhi Sehgal

Annanya Bhattacharjee, Garment and Allied Workers Union, North India

Shambhu Ghatak, Inclusive Media, Common Cause

Runu Chakraborthy

Suroor

Amrita Nandy, Delhi

Svati Joshi, Delhi University

Uma V Chandru, WSS, Bangalore

Ajita, Dalit Feminist Delhi

Ritambhara Mehta and Nazariya, A Queer Feminist Resource Group

Navneet Gupta

Mast Ram, Jagori

Anupama Rawat, Jagori Rural

Ruby Sharma

Anoop Kumar, Jagori

Asha Sharma, Jagori

Aliya Tuzhilin

Manish Sharma

Aheli Chowdhury

 

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