‘Bachegi beti, tabhi padhegi beti’: BHU students up in arms against varsity administration 

There have been a big jump in the number of instances of molestation and harrassment on the campus

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Supriya Nidhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been waxing eloquent on his ambitious Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign while the women students of his own constituency do not feel safe.

Hundreds of girls staged a protest at the main entrance of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi to protest rising incidents of harassment on the campus.

A student of Bachelor of Fine Arts course was allegedly molested near the university's School of Fine Arts, Kala Bhawan, by three boys while she was on the way back to her hostel from class on Thursday evening.

The girl claimed that she cried out for help but the security guards, who were a few metres away from her, ignored her. Later, she reported the incident to the chief proctor of the university but he asked her to ''forget'' about it as the Prime Minister was going to be in town. The student also alleged that apart from facing victim blaming, her character was also questioned when she informed the hostel warden about the incident.

The victim informed other inmates of the hostel and, within a few hours, hundreds of girls assembled at the main entrance and raised slogans against the authorities. They assembled at the Lanka gate of BHU early on Friday and blocked entry to the campus through the main gate for a few hours.

“No action was taken even after a complaint was made to the warden, proctor and the Vice- Chancellor. The victim’s character was also questioned when she informed the hostel warden about the incident. We wanted to meet PM Narendra Modi who was in Varanasi and get our voices heard as he has been speaking much about his ambitious Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign. To show the condition of Betis in his constituency, we have also hung a banner outside the gate, which reads: Bachegi Beti tabhi to Padhegi Beti. He should also come and see the reality at the BHU,” Anjali, a student, told NH.

“Instead of taking any action, authorities are blaming the girl for roaming around the university campus late in the evening,” said another student.

The women students blocked the entrance to BHU campus as Modi's convoy was expected to pass through BHU gate to reach Manas Mandir and Durgakund temple. But, people waiting in the Lanka Gate area were surprised as Modi’s fleet changed its route and passed through the Naria-Saket Nagar route.

One of the students, Akansha Singh, shaved her head to protest the recent molestation of her friend. Akansha claimed that even the proctor refused to help her colleague and told her to go back and not wait to get raped as it was already late. According to Akansha, she herself had a similar experience a month back and thought her shaved head may deter the molesters, reported WION.

When The Hindu contacted the BHU VC, Girish Chandra Tripathi, he dismissed the incident saying that he was yet to receive a formal written complaint from the alleged victim. He alleged that barring a few, the students protesting were not from the BHU but outsiders politically motivated to create a sensation, given Modi’s visit to his constituency.

“I have been asking them for a written complaint since morning but got nothing from them. We are ready to take action but let the students approach us first. They are staging a dharna on the street. That is not the right way,” said Tripathi.

He said he had sent a delegation of teachers to communicate with the protesting students.

Tripathi said despite the large size of the BHU campus, he was willing to address the “genuine problems” of the students, hinting at addressing the issue of curfew timings of the girls’ hostels.

“But the purpose of this dharna is something else...politically motivated. PM Modi is visiting Varanasi. What better time for them,” Tripathi said.

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Published: 24 Sep 2017, 10:04 AM