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BHU on boil after police crackdown on students protesting against molestation

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 24-09-2017
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Police allegedly launched a crackdown on a protest by mostly-female students of the Benares Hindu University (BHU) late on Saturday night, using sticks to forcefully remove groups from the campus’s main gate and in front of the vice chancellor’s residence and leaving many with injuries.

Students had been on a demonstration at BHU’s entrance gate since Thursday to protest against an incident of alleged molestation inside the campus and the administration’s apparent reluctance to take any action.

“A lot of students have arrived at the BHU’s trauma centre and the situation is tense, but there are no major injuries,” said an official of the BHU’s hospital, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The police action came after the protest intensified. “Apparently, some officials asked why the girls needed to be outside after 5pm when they pointed out that they had been harassed at 6:45pm. This riled them up more and protests began in front of the V-C’s house,” the source said.

BHU public relations officer Rajesh Singh said anti-social elements, along with some girls who are not students of BHU, gathered outside the V-C’s lodge at night.

“They were told that any dharna or demonstration without prior permission is banned on BHU premises. Despite that they didnt leave the spot and started using abusive language against V-C. Thereafter they were driven away by security personnel. How those on dharna sustained injuries, I have no idea. Some anti-social elements tried to break gate of Mahila Mahavifyalaya on premises,” he said.

The protests began on Thursday after a student of the Triveni Complex women’s hostel was allegedly molested by unidentified men on motorcycles. The women approached the office of the proctor, which is responsible for campus security.

The chief proctor refused to take action, prompting the women to begin a demonstration at the gate of the campus. As tension flared, students reached the BHU main gate and launched the demonstration.

On Saturday midnight, police dispersed protesters outside the V-C’s residence and the main entrance by raining blows with sticks, eyewitnesses said. “Stones were also thrown by both sides and several vehicles had been set alight,” Amrit Dasgupta, who lives close to the main gate in Lanka area, told HT over phone.

After being driven out from in front of the vice chancellor’s home and the BHU gate, the students splintered into groups shouting slogans and some also set vehicles alight.

“After the students were driven inside, the police started targeting anyone close to the site, particularly members of the media,” said Dasgupta.

According to him, fleets of police vehicles including buses and riot control vans went inside the campus.

A correspondent from Hindustan, HT’s sister publication, said the force included the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Tweets by others who appeared to be on the site said it was mostly women students who were injured in the “lathicharge” by male cops.

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