ASSURED OF VISIT OF TEAM TO BHU TO EXAMINE THE SEXUAL INCIDENTS AND THE VIOLENCE THAT FOLLOWED AFTER VACATIONS
28th September, 2017
The National Commission of women will visit the BHU soon after the University opens in-order to enquire into the sexual violence incident, the police attack that happened and the false cases filed along with looking at the incidents of discrimination that the women students have complained for over two years. This was communicated to a group of BHU students by Ms. Rekha Sharma, member National Commission for Women, who the students met in the absence of the Chairperson at the office in Jasola Institutional area office. The delegation consisting of women and men students, shared at length the problems of discrimination that women students were faced with, victimization of students and the lack of platforms of hearing. They also gave a blow by blow account of the incident of sexual violence that occurred on the 21st of September, which went unheard and their peaceful protest which was later attacked by the police on the VC instructions. They also shared their first hand experiences of the VCs views on women and his anti-women statements during his interaction with students.
They gave a detailed memorandum, which was enclosed by more than 20 BHU students and over 55 eminent women’s activists, lawyers, journalists and HR workers like Aruna Roy, Indira Jaising, Vrinda Grover, Lalita Ramdas, Swamy Agnivesh, Ram Punyani, Kavita Krishnan, Nikhil Dey, Harsh Mander, Nivedita Menon, Annie Raja, Ayesha Kidwai, Manoj Mitta and others, which urged the Commission to immediately visit the BHU and hold a hearing of women students. They also urged that the Women’s Commission must ensure that the VC is removed from his post or else he must be forced to proceed on leave till his retirement as he will continue being vindictive against the students and a sexual harassment free campus will be a distant dream. They also said that the false cases against them should be withdrawn and the FIR closed. They also urged that an active Internal Complaints Committee, under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment law, 2013 be put in place.
The delegation consisted of students Mineshi Mishra, Vikas Singh, Ramayan Patel, Maruti Yadav, Deepak Singh, Rohit Bhatti, Kunal Gupta, Roshan Lal and Bittu. They were accompanied by PUCL National Secretary, Kavita Srivastava and Aheli a research scholar from the Delhi University.
Mineshi Mishra, Manish, Aheli Chowdhury, Abha Bhaiya and Kavita Srivastava
Contact persons: Vikas Singh: 9598429894, Mineshi: 9721906057, Kavita Srivastava, 9351562965, Aheli Chowdhary: 9811765959, Abha Bhaiya
Jantar Mantar, Delhi
Ms. Lalitha Kumaramangalam,
The Honourable Chairperson
National Commission for Women
National Commission for Women,
Sub: Continued Misdemeanours and Anti-women Attitude of the Vice Chancellor GC Tripathi of Benaras Hindu University (BHU)
We are shocked that although a week has passed the NCW has not yet responded to the serious case of sexual assault that happened on the evening of 21st of September, 2017 in the BHU campus and the brutal police attack that followed including the filing of false cases on the peacefully protesting women students. Being the premier and highest body for women in the country, we are surprised that there has been no intervention from the body, when the women students are running pillar to post for justice.
As you may note, that the administration at all levels did not take any action on the complaint filed by the survivor of sexual assault, which resulted in women students sitting in a protest to get an FIR lodged and also ensure that their outstanding demands of a sexual violence free and safe campus be heard and complied with.
Despite the non-violent protest outside the main gate of the BHU, which consisted of some of them shaving off their head and some sitting on hunger strike (without obstructing the passage of the University), with the plea that they be heard by the VC and their concerns be addressed immediately, in less than 48 hours the VC instead of talking to the students in a systematic fashion, used brutal ways to crush the protest.
As the several videos which are in the public domain show, that without any provocation the male policemen entered the campus, targeted the girl students and brutally beat them up. As if to teach the girls a lesson, they entered the girl’s hostels and continued to play havoc and injuring the students with their lathis. They did not even spare the women teachers, the account of Dr. Pratima Gond, Assistant Professor of Sociology, MMV, BHU, clearly states, the merciless way in which the police attacked women. Journalists covering the incident were also beaten up. You must be aware, that earlier in the evening of the 23rd, before the major mindless lathi charge was undertaken against the students, a group of 30 students, boys and girls, went to meet the VC at his lodge, he got the police to lathi charge this group of students too, so student phobic the VC Mr. G C Tripathi is of students, who are the primary constituency of any Educational Institution. This is a University which has 10,000 girl students on its campus apart from the boys.
Following the attack on the night of the 23rd, in the early hours of the 24th of September itself, the students were pressurized by their respective hostel wardens to vacate the hostels. Those students who resisted, their parents were called up. Further those who stated their inability to leave the hostels, were locked inside. All these actions of the administration were done in the presence of heavy police force, converting the educational campus of BHU into a cantonment. Further to teach the protesting students a lesson FIRs were quickly lodged against 1200 students under IPC Section 148 ( rioting with armed weapons), 307 (attempt to murder), 353 (criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of duties), 332 (voluntary causing hurt), 436 (destruction of immovable property), all of which are non-bailable and non cognizable offence. The protestors were termed anti national, meaning, protesting against sexual violence is anti national.
The Vice Chancellor Mr. G.C. Tripathi, complicity with the above is shown by the fact that,
· The incident of sexual assault suffered by the visual arts student was not addressed by him or his administration.
· No Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women Act 2013 or GSCASH took cognizance of this incident. It seems the ICC has been defunct under this VC
· An FIR was lodged almost 24 hours later, however, the University administration did not instruct the police to immediately act upon the evidence, which could have been obtained from the CCTV cameras near the place of the incident.
· To date nobody has been nabbed nor has the student been provided with trauma counseling which is an imperative under the law.
· It is clear that the police could not have entered the campus without the permission of the VC and the hostel wardens could not have pressurized the students to vacate the hostels without due instructions from the VC, however much the VC may indulge in double speak now.
· The VC went on record to mention that this was not a case of sexual molestation but eve-teasing, which not only reduces the gravity of the crime, but also shows that the VC has not read the IPC amendments of 2013 and other special laws related to sexual violence.
The protest following the incident of sexual assault of the 21st September, was the culmination of a series of unheard grievances and complaints of the students for the last three years.
· The students had raised issues of discrimination related to closure timing of 6 pm for girls in some hostels and 8 pm for some other girls hostels, however, 10 pm is closure time for all the boys hostels on the campus.
· Discrimination in provisioning of food offered in the hostels, particular non-vegetarian food.
· The girl students were told not to raise the issue of sexual violence on the campus, as it would tarnish the image of Shiv Nagari/Dharm Nagari of Varanasi.
· Forcing girls students to sign affidavits regarding non-participation in any kind of agitation or protest against the University administration.
Even before, the incident of 21st of September has settled down, it is public now that the BHU VC has pushed for the appointment of one Dr. O.P. Upadhyay who was convicted of sexual harassment by a Magisterial Court in Fiji as the Medical Superintendent of the campus based Sir Sunderlal Hospital.
To top it all, according to the Indian Express report of today, 27th September, 2017, Dr. Upadhyay has been quoted, stating that ‘ The University has taken a legal opinion in my matter, and it was decided that the decision of a Court abroad does not hold good in our country. Hence I was interviewed and selected by the Selection Committee. I was on study leave in Fiji and it was a case of extortion and because I resisted it I was falsely accused’. The VC instead of constituting a enquiry committee into this matter, keeping Dr. Upadhyay away from all public contact, particularly of women, appointed him as several months ago as the acting Medical Superintendent and is now regularizing his appointment.
As shown by the above, not only has the VC been brazenly and blatantly violating and turning a blind eye to all laws relating to security and the protection of women’s autonomy, but also violating all UGC norms which are clear that no discrimination be allowed between the sexes in any University affiliated to it.
The Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi in his report given to the Government of UP on the incidents taking place in BHU has categorically stated that the administration delayed in its response to the incident of sexual assault and mishandled the protest, clearly indicting the VC as the head of the BHU administration. In the light of all the above mentioned facts, we demand the,
· Arrest of all the criminals, responsible for the sexual assault of the girl student on 21st of September, 2017.
· Dismissal of the Dean of Students, Proctor and the Warden of all the hostels who allowed the police force to enter and abuse the girls and later forcibly vacated the hostels.
· Immediate removal of the VC, G.C. Tripathi and ensure that he is not appointed anywhere else in a responsible position in any other institution
· Withdrawal and closure of all FIRs against the students and stopping all persecution of students in the future.
· Prevention of the appointment of Dr. Upadhyay as the regular Medical Superintendent of the campus hospital.
· Dismissal of the SP/DIG responsible for the police attack on students at the earliest.
The need of the hour is to immediately constitute and send an independent committee of eminent people, chaired by an eminent woman to BHU in order to enquire into the matters of sexual violence, discrimination and the police assault of the 24th and subsequent persecution of students and submit a report. The independent committee from the Commission should hear the students, who have been denied a hearing for the last three years.
It is imperative that we all ensure that the campus of BHU is free from all forms of discrimination and sexual violence of all sections of women on the campus including women students, teachers and staff and students are not persecuted because of their participation in the protest.
In the hope, that you will respond and act immediately to our memorandum and send a committee to our campus at the earliest.
Yours in waiting,
On behalf of students of BHU and activists,
BHU students: Mineshi Mishra, Vijay Lakshmi, Ligin Joseph, Ompal Meena, Shantanu Singh Gaur, Atul Yadav, Avinash, Deepak, Akash,ar Diwaker, Shivangi, Abhisheel, Anand, Vikas Singh, Ramayan Patel, Maruti Yadav, Rohit Bhatti, Kunal Gupta, Roshan Lal and Bittu. Manish
Activists and Journalists : Aruna Roy, Abha Bhaiya, Dr. Nivedita Menon, Vrinda Grover, Kavita Krishnan, Aheli Chowdhary, Annie Raja, Kavita Srivastava, Harsh Mander, Swami Agnivesh, Prof. Satish Deshpande, Prof. Apoorvanand, Dr. Mary E John, Arundhati Dhuru, Uma Chandru, Ayesha Kidwai, Indira Jaising, Shampa Sengupta, Niti Saxena, Shabnam Hashmi, Anupama Rawat, Swarna Rajagopal, Manoj Mitta, Panchali Ray, Maya Krishna Rao, Rakhi Sehgal, Suroor, Aparajita Raja, Lalita Ramdas, Mukul Mangalik, Kavita Nandini Ramdas, Ram Punyani, Radha Gopalan, Rajni Palriwal, Suvarna Damle, Ira Bhaskar, Hema Badhwar Mehra, Ira Anjali Anwar, Brinda Bose, Ritu Dewan, Ilina Sen, Vipul Mudgal, Shreya Roy Chowdhury, Dilip Simeon, Jagdish Chokkar, Tehzeeb Katari, Vijay Pratap, N D Pancholi, Gana Kurinji Shanmugasundaram, Meera Nangia, Jyoti Seth, Nikhil Dey, Lubna Sarwath, Ravi Katari, Bhasha Singh, Nityanand Jairam and others
Contact Persons: Kavita Srivastava, 9351562965 firstname.lastname@example.org
Aheli Chowdhary: 9811765959, email@example.com,
Abha Bhaiya: firstname.lastname@example.org