Democracy has been squashed in Banaras Hindu University

An illustration of what happens when the right wing takes over an institution.

I have been in our Prime Minister’s constituency, Varanasi, for the past few days. I, along with representatives of various other student organizations, was invited here by the students who are at the receiving end of the authoritarian attitude of the administration of the Banaras Hindu University. The students proposed the formation of a Joint Action Committee when they realized that situation in the university has gone beyond their control and they’re unable to combat the high handedness being practiced ‘officially’ inside the University.

The current situation in the University is appalling. Democracy has been squashed, gender equality does not exist and social justice is an alien concept. Recently, 9 students were suspended for 2 years from the University for demanding 24 hours access to cyber library, something which already existed in the University but was stopped by the current VC after appointment. The VC has also made some interesting (read highly regressive) remarks that are not worth of his office. According to the VC, students don’t need a library at all. They shouldn’t read from anywhere outside the syllabus. Students want access to library to watch porn. If there’s no book in the library, they should buy one and study.

Furthermore, some students who were democratically protesting demanding some basic rights were first lathi-charged brutally by the police and a professor of the University in cahoots. And then they were framed under nine serious charges including Section 307 (Attempt to Murder). Needless to say, the career of these students is now over.

Recently on 1st July, BJP president Amit Shah arrived at Varanasi to participate in a political rally by Apna Dal. He landed in a helicopter inside BHU. This is first time in History of ‎BHU where the university is being used by a political party chief.

Moral policing has become a common norm of the University – the patriarchy of those in-charges of the administration is unleashed. Girls are not allowed to dress or eat the way they want to, not even inside the hostels. Girls are also not allowed to talk on the phone after 10pm – their phones get snatched if caught doing so. Worse is the case if they’re seen walking around with a boy, they’re handed over to the proctor for not adhering to ‘Indian Culture & traditions’. Girls’ hostel, unlike the boys’ hostel, has no Internet facility. Girls have an 8pm deadline, whereas boys’ hostel practically has no deadline. And worst of all is that girls are asked to give an undertaking as an admission condition that takes away their right from participating in any protest. Here’s a gem from VC on the girl’s problems – ‘Girls collect fellowship money for dowry’ and ‘Girls studying in the night is not a practical thought.’
bhu-rssThese aren’t even half the issues that the students of BHU are dealing with.

It is essential for an educational institution to remain an open and free space where critical thinking is encouraged, dissent is not crushed and there is free flow of ideas. Such dictatorial control in a university will crush the creativity of the students and might very well produce machines that are incapable of questioning the status quo. A little chat with some alumni of the University shed light on how the university used be such a liberal space at one point and how today’s times are seeing such a drastic contrast.

So what changed in the university in a few years? Yes, you’re right – the RSS started controlling the university. Let us first understand the level of infiltration by the self-proclaimed ‘cultural’ organization. The current Vice Chancellor of the University Prof Girish Chandra Tripathi – an RSS man – was appointed, amid accusations of conflict of interest, in late 2014 by a committee led by Justice Malviya from Varanasi – the man who proposed PM Modi’s candidature. Such is the RSS penetration into the campus that its cadres (NOT students) were seen marching through the University campus in their official uniform during the organizations foundation day. That’s not all, the VC himself, apparently, hoisted the flag of ABVP-The student wing of RSS, inside the campus. Besides this, almost all the important positions have been taken over by the RSS. According to one statement by the VC, ‘The Indian Government itself belongs to the RSS. If there’s a ‘shakha’ set up inside the campus, there’s nothing wrong in it!’

This is what happens when we let a regressive right wing organization like the RSS take over our institutions. They are making attempts to infiltrate into almost every institution specially the premier ones, in our country currently. Let’s stop them before it is too late.

(This article is republished here with the permission of author Hasiba Amin,it is originally published at newsD)