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BHU violence: VC unlikely to be removed, his tenure ends in November

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-09-2017 Prashant K. Nanda

New Delhi: The Union human resource development ministry is not mulling the removal of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) vice chancellor G.C. Tripathi despite his inability to control the violence, strike in the campus and reputation damage.

With Tripathi’s tenure ending in November, the ministry feels his removal like the one it did in the Hyderabad University following the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a dalit scholar, will embolden protests and opposition from both students and political parties, at least two government officials said on the condition of anonymity.

The first official said Tripathi was not being considered for a second term as VC and it has nothing to do with the present disruption in the campus. When a VC tenure ends, the authorities generally start looking out for potential candidates four to six months in advance.

“He is not getting an extension not because of present unrest but because other candidates will get a look for fresh tenure. You may link it to the present scenario but it can at best be called a stretch of thought,” said the second official.

BHU, one of the 43 central universities in the country, has been on the boil for the last week after some of its female students were molested by outsiders and a subsequent student protest was dealt with the police caning them. The police do not have the power to enter an educational campus on its own and need the permission of the head of the institution—the VC in case of a university. The BHU strike fired up the ensuing police action which was seen as violence against students and supported by the VC.

But will he be asked to go on leave till retirement? It may happen or may not, the second official said. The Indian Express on Thursday reported that centre is pushing Tripathi to go on leave.

The second official cited above reasoned that the situation is now under control after several fire fighting measures: five staff of the university have been suspended, the proctor has resigned, the state has ordered a judicial probe, the state chief minister and the union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar are constantly in touch with the university to control the situation. He further said that Tripathi has been asked to stay low profile.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Partty (BJP) president Amit Shah have spoken to the state chief minister Yogi Adityanath, and senior BJP leaders and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries are in touch with the union HRD minister.

The university is already on an extended leave till 2 October, and the whole of October will be festival season, the second official added. “The VC going on leave or not will have relatively low impact because of all these circumstances,” he added.

The first official said that since the university is in the PM’s political constituency, everybody is cautious before taking any stand and speaking out freely. The government feels since leaders from the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Samajwadi party have entered the BHU discourse it will be tough to go on the backfoot by removing the VC.

BHU VC Tripathi did not respond to calls on his mobile phone.

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