The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) witnessed a huge protest on September 22 against the alleged sexual harassment of a girl on September 21 by three men inside the campus and victim shaming by the varsity administration. The agitation turned violent on September 23 night after the agitating students, mainly girls, were lathi-charged by the police.
Over a month has now passed after the incident but nothing much has changed in the university to ensure safety and security of the campus, where incidents ranging from molestation and eve-teasing to abduction and ragging still continue to take place.
After the classes resumed from October 3 following Durga Puja and Gandhi Jayanti holidays, another female student was allegedly slapped, pulled by her hair and had her mobile phone snatched by a senior in her classroom in the presence of a teacher on October 5.
The victim, a student of MA (Sociology), in her written complaint to the police alleged that Shitla Sharan Gaund, a third semester MA (Public Administration) student, misbehaved with her in her department.
“When I was going down the stairs of my department, he (Gaund) pulled my hair and snatched my cell phone. He slapped me inside the classroom before everyone. He threw my handset on a bench,” she told the police in her complaint, a copy of which is in possession of NewsClick.
Immediately after the incident, the accused was arrested by the police.
On October 11, a masters student Shashank Rai – a resident of Raja Ram Mohan Rai Hostel – was allegedly abducted by goons on gunpoint from the campus in broad daylight. However, the student somehow managed to flee from their clutches.
He also lodged a complaint at Lanka police station and cops are yet to nab the culprits.
A few days after the incident, a BA (first year) student from Fiji was allegedly assaulted by his seniors on October 15 on the pretext of ragging. The student was beaten two times during a period of 24 hours. This time too, the police immediately filed a FIR, but no one has so far been arrested.
Apart from these major incident, there are at least six other complaints of sexual harassment, snatching and theft on the campus, which has given it a tag of “Unsafe BHU”.
A postgraduate female of science told NewsClick on conditions of anonymity that “eve-teasing cases are still happening and girls are still being pressurized to remain silent, while the boys are still being let off the hook”.
“Safety and security cannnot be ensured by merely installing CCTV cameras and street lights. It needs the fear of the law that is absent in the campus. Goons enjoy the protection of the university. And therefore, such incidents will never stop,” she added.
Defying the promise made with the students of the university, the district, as well as the university administration, has not moved an inch towards the formation of the Gender Sensitization Committee against sexual harassment (GSCASH). The letter written by the girls testifies the same.
The university is allegedly trying to convince the students over a mere ‘internal complaints committee’ and ‘grievance redressal cell’, where the university has the only authority.
Newly-appointed Chief Proctor Prof Royana Singh told NewsClick when asked about the GSCASH, “We addressed other demands of the girls such as street lights and security camera. The process of GSCASH will start soon.”
She said the university is trying to sensitise the students – especially boys – about the sexual harassment and gender discrimination to put a stop on such cases.
The BHU does not have a representation of female students when it comes to making any rules. “They decide hostel timings and whether we should get non-veg food and wifi or not. But all such decisions come as they do not consider talking to us while taking the same decision. They make rules for the girls on an arbitrary basis and without any consultancy,” Mineshi Mishra, a student, told NewsClick.
However, for BHU administration, all is well. “We have installed streetlights and CCTV cameras only at those places which we feel sensitive. These are the places where maximum movement of girls and boys have been recorded,” said BHU PRO Rajesh Singh.