Even as massive protests by students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) demanding a rollback of revised hostel rules, have been hitting the headlines, another has been brewing on the campus of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) since November 7 on the basis of religion.
Students of the university’s Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vigyan (SVDV) have been agitating on campus, protesting against the appointment of a Muslim professor in the Sanskrit department.
The newly-appointed faculty Firoze Khan, a doctorate in Sanskrit had joined duty as an assistant professor at the university 12 days ago. Protesting against Khan’s appointment, a group of students of the department on Monday (November 19)set up a ‘hawan kund’ outside the Vice Chancellor’s residence and started chanting hymns.
The students have also shot off a letter to university Vice Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar asserting that the appointment of a Muslim lecturer in their department goes against Sanatan Dharma, on the basis of which the university was founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.
“The stone plate of the faculty also mentions that this institution is for cultural, religious, historical debates and discussion of Sanatan Dharma and its direct or indirect branches like Arya Samaj, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism,” the letter read.
The university administration, however, has clarified that there will be no discrimination in appointments on the basis of religion.
“There was an appointment meeting and some students created disruptions at the time. They were protesting against the appointment of a Muslim. The meeting took place on November 5 and the appointment was done on the basis of the potential of the candidate. The university does not stand for discrimination on the basis of religion, caste or gender. For the progress of the nation it believes in providing equal opportunities of education to all.” News18 quoted the university’s spokesperson Rajesh Singh as saying in a media statement.
Bhatnagar, met the protesting students on Tuesday (November 19), assuring them that the appointment of Khan was constitutional and was carried out according to the BHU Act and UGC guidelines.
Khan, has reportedly gone underground anticipating attack on his life.
In an interaction with Indian Express earlier, Khan had said, “All my life, I learnt Sanskrit and was never made to realise I am a Muslim, but now when I am trying to teach, suddenly it has become the only subject.” Khan did his graduation, BEd, post graduate and PhD from the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Jaipur.
The protests go against Article 14 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution which guarantees to every person the right to equality before law and equal protection of the laws irrespective of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth.