New Delhi: For the past two years, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has been in news for a number of reasons. Starting from widespread protests by girl students in 2017 to several students being expelled on frivolous grounds. The latest is an incident wherein a dalit professor was assaulted allegedly over some “objectionable” comment on a Facebook post.
On January 29, a dalit professor from the department of sociology was beaten up by a group of students and outsiders, allegedly for posting a comment on a picture of a professor and a female student, as per reports.
A few days after the incident, a video went viral showing BHU assistant professor Manoj Kumar Verma being manhandled and harassed allegedly by ABVP members. In the clip, the professor could be seen being beaten up and garlanded with shoes by the mob. Later, it appeared that the professor was targeted allegedly for his dalit identity by a mob that included students from the university as well as few outsiders.
Talking to NewsClick, a student on condition of anonymity said, "Ten days ago, some students of the social work department went on an academic tour to Goa where Head of Department (HOD) Arvind Kumar Joshi clicked a picture with his female student on a beach. The girl posted that photo on social media and professor Verma allegedly shared the photo on Facebook with an objectionable comment."
He added, "If he has posted anything objectionable then there should be departmental inquiry. An FIR should have been filed against him. But he was beaten up mercilessly. Had Verma belonged to an upper caste, nobody would have dared to touch him. Just five minutes before Verma came for his class, Joshi locked his chamber and left the campus. Following that, a few university students along with outsiders came and beat him up.”
Speaking with NewsClick, Verma said, "Professor Arvind Kumar Joshi always runs the department in his own way and whenever I objected to him, he used to threaten me through his students. We also had a fight regarding a paper in the department but it turned personal after a few Master of Social Work students went on an academic trip. After they returned to the campus, a girl shared a picture with Joshi on social media which professor Joshi himself liked. I just shared that photo and wrote, ‘respected professor while playing in water’. Later, when I realised that it might have been offensive, I deleted my post. If he was really offended by my post, he should have made a written inquiry against me, but he chose to take a violent method,” alleging that “before I was dragged out from the classroom and beaten up, professor Joshi had been sitting in his chamber with almost 15-20 outsiders.”
Verma said, “I was garlanded with shoes and forced to roam inside campus. For merely sharing a picture of a professor on social media I was beaten up, the same picture which professor Joshi had himself liked.”
Alleging that he was targeted for his caste, he further added, "I can give you in written that if I was Brahmin, it would have never happened to me. I am dalit that's why I was targeted and beaten up," Verma told NewsClick.