New Delhi: Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have been staging sit-in demonstrations for the last week over the appointment of a 29-year-old Muslim professor.
The protest began on 7 November, two days after Feroz Khan was appointed as an assistant professor in the literature department of the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan.
Following the protests, the BHU administration issued a statement, stating the idea behind the establishment of the university was to contribute in nation-building efforts by providing equal opportunity of study and teaching to all deserving people without any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, gender and sect.
The letter also stated that Khan’s appointment was a unanimous decision made by a selection committee under a transparent process.
When contacted, Khan told ThePrint he felt insulted by the whole incident and that he would have never applied for the job if the university mentioned in the advertisement that they don’t want a Muslim.
‘A Muslim can’t teach us our dharma’
Students claimed that Khan’s appointment is a “conspiracy” and it has hurt the sentiments of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, who helped establish the university.
“We have two main allegations. First is that this appointment has been made as part of a conspiracy. The entire process, including the interview, was rigged in favour of Feroz Khan. Secondly, the stone inscription installed in BHU clearly states that no non-Hindu can either study or teach in our department. Then why a Muslim professor was appointed in the faculty,” asked Chakrapani Ojha, a student of the Sanskrit faculty who is leading the sit-in protests, while talking to ThePrint.
Ojha said a Muslim professor’s appointment has hurt the sentiments of Madan Mohan Malviya, “who had clearly said that no non-Hindu can teach or study in the university’s Sanskrit department”.
PhD student Shubham Tiwari, who is also taking part in the protests, told ThePrint: “In this department, there are no teachers, all are our gurus. Everyone keeps a choti (tuft of hair on the head), we touch their feet and participate in havan (a ritual). If a Muslim professor is accorded a place in the department, then it will be open discrimination against the students. A Muslim can’t teach us our dharma.”
The university says there is no stone inscription on the premises that says non-Hindus can’t study or teach in BHU.
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Can’t reject an application based on religion, says V-C
BHU Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar told ThePrint the university cannot reject someone’s application based on his caste or religion.
“The country follows a specific set of laws and as per that law, all are equal. The (Sanskrit) department had issued an advertisement seeking the appointment of a professor. In that advertisement, it wasn’t mentioned that a person from any specific religion will not be acceptable. One candidate among the final shortlisted applicants was finally appointed with a unanimous decision,” he said.
On the students’ protest, the V-C said, “They met me and submitted a memorandum. After that, I asked the registrar to cross-check all the rules and documents. No rules were found to be violated during the appointment process.”
Asked to comment on the “inscription”, Bhatnagar categorically said there is no such stone installed in the university.
‘Khan was the most eligible candidate’
Head of Sanskrit department professor Umakant Chaturvedi told ThePrint Khan was the most eligible candidate among all the applicants.
“Twenty-nine persons had applied for the post and 10 were shortlisted for interview. Nine candidates appeared for the interview and the selected candidate was the most eligible among all. While other applicants had scored between 0-2 out of 10, the selected candidate had scored 10 out of 10,” he said.
Chaturvedi said if the students are saying Pandit Malviya’s sentiments have been hurt by the appointment of a Muslim professor, he has no objection to amending the university rules. But he also said he still believed Khan was the best among all candidates.
‘Felt insulted that I can’t teach Sanskrit because I’m Muslim’
In a telephonic conversation with ThePrint, Khan said his parents cried the whole night when they heard about the controversy on television.
“When I took admission in Jaipur, I was the only Muslim student in my batch. I never felt ‘Muslim’, but I am feeling insulted that I cannot teach a certain subject just because I am a Muslim,” he said.
Khan is a native of Bagru village, nearly 32 kilometres from Jaipur. He has been teaching Sanskrit as a guest faculty in Janipur’s Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. He completed his PhD from there last year.
His father and younger brother have also studied Sanskrit. Khan said his father sings bhajans to raise fund for maintaining cowsheds.
“I have never felt discriminated before. If they didn’t want a Muslim in the Sanskrit department, they should have clearly mentioned it in the advertisement. I wouldn’t have applied then,” he asserted.
Speaking to ThePrint, Khan recited a Sanskrit shloka (verse) that he had studied in school to explain “what Sanatan Dharam stands for”. Translated, the shloka means malice never leads to peace, the only way to get rid of hatred is to leave hatred.
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We r students doesn’t mean that we can protest over every rubbish. Thing, this is totally a pointless protest, university should never accept their demands, bcz once they will accept another day again these some stupid students will. Raise another pointless protest, right now these students r just studying nd behaving like a God father, talking about gurus, guru is not only word it means a lot, who give us knowledge these all r gurus whether they r younger or elder, or kind of any religion, just think that our holy books says about gurus.
My Hidu Dharm is facing accute rediculism due to all stupid pandits agar inki chal jae to ye aab safaikaramchari mein bhi apni seat reserve kara le.
My Hiduism is on contineous verge of depriciation . peaople are leaving hinduism
You are an waste of space.
How stupid and foolish the students in BHU who are protesting against a professor not for his lack of skill in Sanskrit language but for his religion. How the hell they entered in to BHU. Sanskrit is after all a dead language having no speakers at all. Those who profess and advocate Brahminical hegemony are alone telling “Sanskrit is Divine language known only to the Hindu Gods. Other languages are mean and low .”
These students are national shame .
Some one was narrating a story of a muslim arab interested in learning Judaism as subject but was not able to find it as subject in all muslim countries but realised islam is taught in all universities across Israel and that makes Israel a much better country and a thriving democracy surrounded by kings and despots. So learn from it.
In my childhood days i learnt that those who study go to school acquire knowledge spent maximum time in books and studies are the most disciplined and educated persons people who goes to teach in college and universities are the most important backbone of our country…. i think few people who have supported this issue are enjoying and very few people who are truly genuinely educated and disciplined are serious and thoughtful about this issue…
WILL A HINDU BE APOOINTED TO TEACH KORAN?
Wow. What a moronic comment.
There are certain rituals to perform , as in offering Puja’s like “Rudrabhishek”and much more which a person who has been brought up and been a part of all can only get to know about in depth..
The thing is that it’s not only about being against any particular community, it’s just that whether person belongs to different community can have the same sentiments as the person who has been a part of it from the time they start knowing about their rituals and what their religion believe in..
Yes, if he has a PhD. in arabic why not learn arabic from him. Lots of professors in middle eastern countries are not muslims and teach in arabic.
Yeah! If he is Doctotate in Arabic sure he can bro. #proudindians
He is teaching sanskrit, not vedas
The issue is about a Language, not a Religious Book. Many Hindu teachers teach Urdu, Arabic etc.
Why not? if he as sufficient knowledge of the subject at hand.
Sanskrit is not supposed 2 b taught just as a simply a secular language. It has Hindu philosophy &Hindu sanskriti built into it. If non-Hindu teaches it, it will end up as the Sheldon Pollock’s school of Sanskrit. Or Wendy Doniger’s school of Sanskrit – both Hinduphobic.
The founders of the university obviously disagreed with you. I bet you dont even know Sanskrit. Typical bhakt.
What kind of human being are you? I am a student of BHU and I am appalled to read and listen to what Mr. Khan has to go through. And Mahamana never said that what these idiot students are claiming as said by Mahamana.
You idiot snake we can’t let people from other religion control our dharma..this is what you studied in university..that’s why we say a good personality is needed to do a job..nit only knowledge
Your comments are a give away that you know nothing about language, philosophy and hence the difference between the two.
BHU giving a fight to JNU for hatred and ignorance? Hindus, please stick to our core value – tolerance!
WHEN OTHERS WILL. NOT BEFORE
Dude we as Hindu have to be better than others, we as Hindus have been taught from range beginning of the time about our tolerance. We as a Hindu have to lead this blind world forward based on our Hindu philosophy.
If we ignore the teaching of Hinduism because of someone else we are doing disservice to our religion
What is to say that tomorrow they won’t say a Dalit can’t teach Sanskrit. This is where regressive political ideology takes society.
WHY NOT U APPLY TO MADRASSA TO TEACH KORAN AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS?
You keep posting this dumb comment.
Keep your conduct right first then expect others to be righteous.
You clearly have difficulty thinking straight, if a qualified person has the ability to teach a subject, she or he can? Irrespective of one’s religious belief.
Its a shame. BHU students are behaving like their counterparts in JNU. If this sort of parochialism and ideological stupidity is allowed to run amok on campus, it surely will become the next JNU.
Mr. Khan must be supported wholeheartedly and the administration should take a firm stance on this issue. Bowing before the idiotic demands of the students will be an absolute disaster.
Professor A.P.J. Abul Kalam too was a Sanskrit scholar in addition to being the father of the Indian space program. In the present age, he too would have been booted out of his job and even the country.
LIKE U BURNT HINDUS AT THE GOA INQUISITION?
No. Like you gangraped a girl at Kherlanjee. If we counted all crimes against Dalits we would be here 1000 years. Your hatred is hypocritical, pitiful, and pathetic.
It’s not about Sheldon Pollock or Wendy Doniger rather it’s about us Indians. So stop your bigotry.
You are an waste of space.
Mr Khan, this too shall pass. You are qualified and you worked hard to do PhD. That is a Himalayan task for people like me. I pray for better sense to prevail in the students. Are they coming to study here or to develop hatred?
Indian becoming Pakistan.
No Pakistan treats its minorities better than India.
Another piece of RSS fake news.
The ruling party BJP makes it a mission to spread poison, in order to garner the majority vote in India, it the central plank in its strategy to win elections. It has done this for 75 years.
In Pakistan its impossible to win significant votes on hatred for any minority, the Pakistan electorate will not have it. Not one successful large political party in Pakistan operates on the strategy of drumming up hate against a minority.
No radical muslim party has succeeded in elections in Pakistan.
ONLY IN INDIA AND NAZI GERMANY HAS THIS STRATEGY OF STIRRING UP HATE AGAINST A MINORITY BEEN USED TO CONSOLIDATE THE MAJORITY VOTE
Please do a fact on the condition of minorities in Pakistan. Being a Hindu Sindhi would like to enlighten you on issues of forcible conversions of Hindu girls, faith shaming and Rapes that my community members have witnessed over the years. which has resulted in either people converting or leaving Pakistan. Do you know that a refugee camp exists in Chatarpur area in Delhi to accommodate such refugees who arrive even today. All these factors have resulted in the population of Hindus being dwindled to less than 1%.
Do a fact Check on the sheer number of destroyed Hindu temples in Pakistan and what role the authorities have played in restoring them.
I agree that no large political party in Pakistan publicly drums up hate against minorities because they have it in their hidden agenda.
I also request you to go and ask the leaders of your better state why the religious bifurcation of the 2017 population census has not been published .
I do not want to justify the students but cannot tolerate my nation being put down.
Really man. While i decounce these stupid students but your comment about greatness of Pakistan state is undigestable.
BJP/RSS should ponder where they have taken the country to gain power.
Fair point, AMU does the same.
Don’t spread fake news here please. Do you have some proof? Please bring it up. It is better not to spread hate among communities even if one gets paid for that.
I am a Hindu teacher at AMU this is untrue!
Sanskrit is a language, not a dharm, which anybody can teach. Students from all over the world go to Heidelberg, Germany,, to learn Sanskrit language, and the teachers are all probably German Christians! So, if a Christian can teach Sanskrit, why can’t a Muslim?
These students would probably reject a professor trained in Sanskrit in Germany too. Their ignorance is so deep they can’t distinguish dharma from nationality.
In fact if a person of Muslim faith is formally and adequately qualified, and has proven credentials, it should be so interesting to have him/her as your professor. Assuming that the professor is also well versed with Islamic culture and languages like Urdu/Arabic, it would make such as eclectic class. No wonder, with such regressive attitude, Sanskrit is not getting rejuvenated, and the standards of scholarly work is so dismal.
Please research Sheldon Pollock’s school of Sanskrit. Or Wendy Doniger’s school of Sanskrit – both Hinduphobic. Do not speak without understanding the issue at hand.
Stop bullshitting here. Sheldon Pollock and Wendy Doniger are not Indians but Mr. Firoz Khan is and one of us. Also he has been selected on merit. He has the qualification required for teaching the subject so why not. So please stop your bigotry.
That is on point. Thanks for your comment.
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