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BHU defends ‘inclusive culture’ as ABVP & ‘students’ protest V-C’s presence at campus iftaar

Protests began soon after photos of V-C attending iftaar function at Mahila Mahavidyalaya were posted on Twitter. BHU says iftaar at the university has been a years-old tradition.

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Lucknow: A group of 8-9 people, which allegedly included Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students as well as members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), held protests and burnt an effigy of the varsity’s vice-chancellor after he attended an iftaar function on campus Wednesday.

The protests began soon after photographs of Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Sudheer Kumar Jain attending the function at the university’s women’s college (Mahila Mahavidyalaya), and having food with students, were posted on Twitter by BHU’s public relations office around 9 pm. 

A purported video clip of the protests, which has been circulating on social media, shows a group of young men shouting: “V-C murdabad, BHU mein iftaari nahi chalegi, nayi parampara band karo (Iftaari won’t be allowed in BHU. Stop these new traditions).”

A Hanuman Chalisa recital was also organised outside the V-C’s office Thursday.

Adhokshaj Pandey, a third-year PhD student at BHU and state working committee member of the ABVP, the RSS student wing, told ThePrint that he and other ABVP members burnt the V-C’s effigy on campus, along with “other students”.

While Pandey claimed that iftaar functions had never been held at the university before, the BHU administration denied the claim. The university said Thursday that iftaar functions have been organised for the past several years, and the V-C, being the head of the institution, participates whenever he is on campus.

The BHU’s public relations office also put out a tweet stating that theirs is an inclusive institution. It also retweeted a tweet sharing pictures of old iftaar functions held in 2010, 2013 and 2014.

Contacted by ThePrint, BHU Public Relations Officer (PRO) Rajesh Singh said it was very difficult to ascertain whether those who protested outside the V-C’s office were students.

“BHU has 32,000 students so it is very difficult to say whether these are students or outsiders. Students simply set some papers on fire and fled. Iftaar tradition is very old and even on the occasions of Janmashtmi, Saraswati Puja etc, the V-C visits the students to encourage them,” he added. “We have a Muslim in the Sanskrit department and a Hindu in the Urdu department. The V-C wanted to take the students along. Some students may be politically motivated… and nuisance-makers have done this, but they have fled. Some have written slogans outside to incite the atmosphere. We are investigating.”

On Thursday, students found inflammatory slogans scrawled on the university walls. 

Also Read: ABVP, Left students clash over ‘chicken’ in JNU hostel mess on Ram Navmi, 5 injured

V-C should focus on temples too, says ABVP member

Speaking to ThePrint, members of the ABVP’s Varanasi unit admitted that they were part of the protests.

“Yesterday’s protest took place because the main problem is that while the V-C is busy holding iftaar, the campus administration refuses to take up issues of temples,” said Prince, ABVP state office secretary, Thursday. “Around 3-4 months ago, some people broke eggs outside a temple on campus but no action was taken. The V-C should talk about that too.”

Meanwhile, Pandey called the function an “act which can spread communal tension”.  

“I have been here for the past 10 years. I have not seen any such event here. This is an act which can spread communal tension when the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ row is on,” he told ThePrint.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: A spat, a human chain formed by cops, sloganeering & a flare-up — what happened in Jahangirpuri


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