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.
रमज़ान के पाक महीने में आज काशी हिन्दू विश्वविद्यालय स्थित महिला महाविद्यालय में रोज़ा इफ्तार का आयोजन किया गया, जिसमें कुलपति प्रो. सुधीर कुमार जैन भी शामिल हुए। कुलपति जी के साथ महिला महाविद्यालय के रोज़ादार शिक्षक, शिक्षिकाओं व छात्राओं ने अपना रोज़ा खोला व इफ्तार की। #Ramadan pic.twitter.com/xoca4NtSFM
— BHU Official (@bhupro) April 27, 2022
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.
पूर्व में आयोजित रोज़ा इफ्तार में शामिल कुलपतिगण की तस्वीरें। विश्वविद्यालय में दशकों पहले रोज़ा इफ्तार के आयोजन की शुरुआत हुई थी।
तस्वीरेंः वर्ष 2010, 2013 तथा 2014 की हैं, जब तत्कालीन कुलपतिगण ने इफ्तार में शिरकत की थी। @VCofficeBHU @EduMinOfIndia @ugc_india https://t.co/5Flf6cnomB pic.twitter.com/XyDiqOUUpl
— BHU Official (@bhupro) April 28, 2022
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.
For those who aren't aware, Vice-Chancellors in the past have also attended #iftar organized in the campus. Here are some pictures:
Prof. Lal ji Singh in 2013
Prof. Vinay Singh in 2014 (Officiating Registrar)
Prof. D. P. Singh in 2010 pic.twitter.com/iar1GeDwKH
— Chander Shekher Gwari (@CSGwari) April 28, 2022
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.
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)