Stoking a controversy, two Dalit PhD scholars of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have accused a woman professor of forcing them to clean a toilet and passing casteist remarks. The incident came to light when a report based on the complaint was shared with the president of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
Both the students, one from Scheduled Caste (SC) and the other from Scheduled Tribe (ST), belong to Mahila Maha Vidyalaya (MMV) affiliated to the BHU. The incident allegedly took place in March this year during a seminar. The accused professor belongs to the Home Science Department of the college.
A student from the same college, who chose to be anonymous, told NewsClick, "I was her student till last year, and I also faced what the Dalit researcher scholars have faced. She behaves as a dictator in the classroom and passes casteist and sexist comments on girls. She has a problem with all the active girls who raise their voice against the administration. In 2017, when a few girls were allegedly harassed inside the varsity campus, the vice chancellor of the university had come to meet the girl students at their hostel. When students were raising questions about their safety, the same professor chased to beat the students, threw a sandal at one of the students and snatched our cellphones, but she got away scot-free."
"Wo kehati hain jin ladkiyon ko ghar par do time khana nahi naseeb hota hai, BHU me unhe chaar time ka khana bade aaram se mil jata hai. Aur wo yahan aake protest karti hain, administration ko criticise karti hain (She says that the girls who struggle to get even two square meals at home, are provided food four times a day by the BHU. But they come here and protest; criticise their own administration). She always taunts the students and when they retaliate, she takes revenge in the viva exam or takes administrative action," said the student.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the inquiry panel has begun its probe into the matter and VC Rakesh Bhatnagar has formed a panel two weeks ago following the directive of NCST.
“What we know is that a professor of the Home Science Department made two PhD scholars clean the toilet in the department. A conference was going on in the Department then. We cannot reveal much about the allegations as inquiry committee is probing the matter,” the report quoted a faculty member as saying.
Another student, Vivek Kumar, a student of political science at BHU said, "In BHU, teachers openly discriminate on the basis of caste because upper caste teachers dominate here. Teachers openly ask students about their caste. During my starting days at the BHU, one of the professors had asked my full name when I replied ‘Vivek Kumar’, he asked about my caste. These teachers also get the research scholars to do their personal work – from bringing vegetables from the market to dropping their kids to the school. But in the case of the Dalit and OBC students, they can stoop really low.”
NewsClick approached BHU VC, but he has refused to comment on the matter. While BHU PRO Rajesh Singh claimed that they don’t have any knowledge about the issue.
However, this is not the first time when a Dalit has faced casteist remarks on the campus. On January 29, a Dalit professor, Manoj Kumar Verma, from the Department of Sociology was manhandled and beaten up by a group of ABVP members and outsiders, allegedly for posting a comment on a picture of a professor and a female student. Students had claimed that the professor was targeted allegedly for his Dalit identity, and not for the Facebook comment.
Also read: Dalit Professor Beaten Up, Garlanded with Shoes in BHU