The Congress today hit out at the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh over a lathi-charge on women students of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and demanded the immediate sacking of the vice chancellor and a judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge into the incident. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence over the “preposterous and shocking” incident, and asked what his stand was on the “atrocity” perpetrated on the students in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency. Describing the VC as “incorrigible” and “insensitive”, Tewari asked Modi if such a person could head an institute of academic excellence like the BHU.
“We demand that the President of India, who is the visitor of the university, immediately take cognisance of what has happened in BHU and sack the vice chancellor,” he told reporters here. Attacking the BJP and its rule in Uttar Pradesh, Tewari said the government had been a “failure” on all fronts and accused it of “shedding crocodile tears”.
“We demand an inquiry by a sitting High Court judge that should go into all the facts and circumstances as to how this atrocity was perpetrated and hold all those persons who were responsible for ordering this lathi-charge to account,” Tewari said. The former Union minister recalled the words of nationalist leader and BHU founder Madan Mohan Malviya, saying those who set up the university created a very secular and pluralistic centre of learning that catered to all communities. He said at the time of its creation, Malviya had said, “India is not a country of the Hindus only; it is a country of the Muslims, the Christians and the Parsis, too. The country can gain strength and develop itself only if people of different communities in India live in mutual goodwill and harmony”. The Congress leader, while questioning Modi’s silence, asked, “We would like to know from the Prime Minister of India where does he stand on this atrocity which has been perpetrated on women students in his own parliamentary constituency”.
He also asked Modi whether a person who is “so insensitive” to the genuine concerns of students deserved to be the university VC. “The incorrigible vice chancellor of this university, rather than being sympathetic to the students, turned around and told the girls that if you are so conscious of your modesty, why do you step out after 6 O’clock in the evening,” Tewari claimed. He said rather than empathising with them, the university “colluded in the most barbaric lathi-charge”.
He also took a dig at the BJP’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign and said the incident was the “perpetration of the most unspeakable atrocities” against the students who were protesting against alleged molestation and were seeking a safer campus. A number of students, including women, and two journalists were injured in a baton-charge by the police in BHU where a protest against alleged sexual harassment turned violent on Saturday night.