Banaras Hindu University (BHU), which is no stranger to curious appointments and even more curious protests, is currently embroiled in a controversy over the appointment of a Muslim, Dr Firoz Khan, as Assistant Professor in the department of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan(SVDV).
While BHU has defended the appointment and claimed that all the rules were followed before the appointment was made, and only after Dr Khan met the criteria prescribed, a section of students led not surprisingly by the ABVP, are demanding that the appointment be cancelled. Their reasoning: the department not only teaches Sanskrit but also religious scriptures. The possibility of Dr Khan engaged to teach only Sanskrit has not cut much ice with them so far.
Demanding cancellation of the appointment of a “non-Hindu” in the department, “research scholars and students” of the department started a sit-in at Holkar Bhawan near vice-chancellor’s residence on from Thursday.
But pictures as well as circumstantial evidence emerging from ground zero suggest that most of those who started a sit-in are members of RSS’ student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
Alleging “conspiracy” many students’ activists known to have their affiliation with the ABVP claimed that the appointment is against ‘the soul and spirit of the institution’ and it should be cancelled immediately.
“It clearly shows that the protest is the handiwork of the ABVP,” claimed an ex-student of the varsity.
Member of the state executive of the ABVP Ashirvad Dubey on Thursday wrote a Facebook post wherein he declared “appointment of a Muslim in the Sanskrit department is a glaring evidence that the VC of the university is anti-Hindu”. “VC’s act (of appointing a Muslim in the Sanskrit department) dealt a blow to Malviya’s reputation,” he wrote.
A former student of the varsity who is pursuing his M. Phil from the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya told NH that many AVBP activists including Dubey have been mobilising the students against the appointment of a Muslim as an assistant professor in the department of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan ever since the appointment was done.
ABVP has also been involved in spreading rumours that the appointment of a Muslim was done at the cost of the OBC-Dalits. However, the truth is that the appointment of the Muslim candidate was done under the OBC category.
The BHU administration has also made it clear that “the appointment has been made as per the University Grants Commission (UGC) rules and the BHU Act in a transparent manner”.
BHU spokesman Rajesh Singh said: “The appointment has been made following an interview in the Sahitya (literature) department of the faculty of SVDV. The varsity has made the appointment as per the UGC rules and the BHU Act, in which discrimination on the basis of caste and creed has no place. The appointment has been made with full transparency and only on the basis of the eligibility of candidate.”
Student activists associated with the Left organisations alleged that the Varanasi unit of the ABVP with the help of the BJP has been involved in the putting BHU on the boil.
In another twist to the story, however, it emerged that the rationale that teachers of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan (SVDV) of the Banaras Hindu University have given to support its students' protests is this: It's not just a Sanskrit department, it deals with religious sciences or Dharm Vigyan, said a very senior member of the department, explaining why he thinks the students are not happy with the decision.