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Varanasi: Kashi Vidyapeeth University Sacks Dalit Guest Lecturer Over Navaratra Fast Post

Mithilesh Kumar Gautam had written on social media that women should read the Constitution and Hindu Code Bill instead of fasting for nine days, “to free themselves from slavery and fear”.

Lucknow: A dalit guest lecturer in the political science department of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith (MGKV) in Varanasi was terminated by the administration on Thursday for his “objectionable” remarks on social media. He was also barred from entering the university campus.

On September 30, Mithilesh Kumar Gautam, who was a guest lecturer in MGKV for around two years, was dismissed for a Facebook post which suggested that instead of fasting for nine days during Navaratri, women should read the Indian Constitution and the Hindu Code Bill, to save themselves from slavery and fear they face in society. 

"For women, it is better to read the Constitution of India and the Hindu Code Bill instead of fasting for nine days during Navratra. Their lives will be free from fear and slavery. Jai Bheem," read the post in Hindi.

Following this, several students of the college, associated with the Right-wing, complained about it being an “anti-Hindu” post, after which MGKV removed the guest lecturer "with immediate effect" due to “resentment” caused among students and the environment of the varsity being “affected”.

“The service of guest lecturer Mithilesh Kumar Gautam has been terminated with immediate effect on September 29 by the order of registrar Sunita Pandey,” MGKV spokesperson Navratan Singh told NewsClick on Saturday.

According to the order issued by the registrar, some students submitted a complaint against Gautam on Thursday against his alleged 'anti-Hindu' post on social media. He said Gautam’s act not only caused resentment among students, but also disturbed the atmosphere on the campus along with the examination and admission process, adding that he was terminated with immediate effect as per university rules.

Meanwhile, a ‘hurt’ Gautam, who did his post-graduation and PhD on "social justice" at MGKV, told NewsClick: "Without any investigation, I was terminated from my service by the university administration. The decision was taken in haste under pressure from so-called upper caste people who are infamous for creating ruckus inside the campus for a long time."

In response to the Gautam's remarks, students of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ body affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), raised slogans of 'Jai Shri Ram' and 'Jai Mata Di' in the campus and also surrounded the department's head, demanding the professor to be removed from his post.

"Fortunately, I was not in the department when they barged in, otherwise I would have been lynched by the mob. They used casteist slurs on me and the head of department. They did not even spare my mother and sister while assassinating their characters. I have not mocked or abused Hindu deities in my post, yet I am being vilified and hounded by the Right-wing group," he said.

The “aggressive” group of students reached the vice-chancellor office, chanting slogans and pressured him to dismiss Gautam “within two hours” otherwise they threatened to launch a massive protest on the campus, alleged Gautam, who said he had not received the termination letter from the university. 

"I came to know about my termination through social media, as I have not received any official letter from the university," he claimed.

Gautam said in the past few years, teachers from the minority community, dalit and Other Backward Classes have been living in fear of being targeted by Right wing groups.

"The same group who created ruckus inside the campus and abused me was involved in the attack on Susheel Gautam, head of the education department, and assault on another professor, Kripa Shankar Jaiswal, last year during counselling. All this is happening just because I am a dalit," he added.

Meanwhile, Gautam said he has written to the SC/ST Commission in Delhi and has also filed a complaint against the Right-wing group of people at Sigra police station, Varanasi.

Read also: UP: ABVP Ruckus at Lucknow University Against Dalit Professor Over ‘Offensive’ Remark in Website Debate

It may be recalled that an associate professor of Hindi department at Lucknow University had suffered public heckling and intimidation on the university premises this year by ABVP over his comments on the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi mosque controversy in a debate hosted by a news website.

Then, too, the mob kept chanting “Jai Sri Ram '', “Har Har Mahadev '' and “Desh Ke Gaddaron Ko, Goli Maaro s**** Ko (shoot the traitors) throughout in the presence of the proctorial team. They also termed the professor a “traitor”.

Protesters had surrounded the professor until he was forced to take shelter in the proctor’s office for several hours. When he finally returned home, the Hasan Ganj police lodged an FIR against him at the behest of ABVP member Aman Dubey.

Commenting over such growing incidents against dalit teachers in universities, Sudhir Panwar, a professor at Lucknow University told NewsClick: “A regressive environment is being created by Right-wing people against critics of the government. Their target is Muslims not dalits, but they will target whoever talks about reforms or logical arguments.”

Meanwhile, Anuj Srivastava, an ABVP office-bearer, claimed that Gautam's comments were "wrong", and the university had taken an "appropriate step", according to a PTI report.

However, Lucknow University Associate Professor of Hindi Ravikant Chandan questioned the action.

"I had seen that post. There was nothing unconstitutional in it. Our Constitution says there should be scientific India. We have the freedom of expression, and the post is related to freedom of women. It is a simple and ordinary post. Now, the question is whether logic ceases to exist in new India. Secondly, he (Mithilesh Kumar Gautam) is a dalit teacher," Chandan told PTI.

"First they (apparently referring to BJP) had attacked Muslims, and now they are targeting dalit activists, teachers and social workers. And this is happening in educational institutes, because educated people are there. Nobody will ask how many hours a teacher has taught," he added.

(inputs from PTI)

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