11 Students Who Led Protests In BHU Against Sexual Harassment Debarred From Taking Up Any Course In The University In Future
11 students from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have been debarred from taking up any course in the University in future. The action against these students was taken for their protest against the Chief Proctor’s statement on their activism against the sexual assault of a female colleague, as reported by The Times of India.
In September 2017, a female student of the university was molested. A women student returning to her hostel was molested by two men on a motorbike before speeding away. When the woman approached the security guards who were standing a few metres away, they refused to take an action and instead responded to her with misogynist remarks. They further tried to shame her by insisting that she should have been careful about moving alone in the dark. Even her hostel warden tried to blame her for the mishap.
Groups of students staged protests in this regard and the students were beaten up and FIRs against 1000 students were registered. In May this year, the newly appointed chief proctor, who also happened to be the first female to take the charge at the university gave a statement to the media that these student protests were sponsored. “There was funding. A big vehicle had arrived with water, pizza and Pepsi bottles. We saw this on video… When students protest they usually go hungry… but children were actually being properly sponsored and encouraged,” she told in an interview to Zee News, as reported by The Indian Express.
This statement caused an uproar among the protesting students. One of the debarred students, Shivangi Chaubey told The Logical Indian, “Zee News came to our campus and spoke with some of the people, most of those people were pro-administration, who spoke disparagingly about our protest, one of whom was chief proctor Royona Singh. This enraged us and we thought of having a discussion with her about the same.” Chaubey says that about 25-30 people went to her office on May 2, 2018, however, Singh refused to have a conversation. We were also having our exam around that time, the administration created a lot of problems for us. They even made me struggle for my admit card required for the exam.” The chief proctor later lodged an attempt to murder case against students after they went to meet her demanding an apology.
Forming of the standing committee
An FIR was also filed against the students by Singh for sloganeering and “pradarshan”, without prior permission, it was alleged that the students were shouting abusive and anti-university slogans. “Singh also filed an FIR against us. We have been cleared of all our charges by the police now,” tells Chaubey.
Moreover, a standing committee was formed in the college to examine the charges against the students. “The astonishing part is that Singh herself was made the head of this committee. Now despite being cleared of the charges by the police, in June, as per an order passed by the committee, 11 of the leading students were debarred from taking up any course in future at BHU. We asked to the committee to even check the CCTV footage to corroborate our stance, however, they did not,” said Chaubey.
The order says, “The committee recommends that since students in question while being interrogated upon did not accept the mistake committed on their part of resorting to this without giving sufficient time to university, the brazen errant students in question may be considered to be debarred from studying in BHU for future(sic).”
However, BHU may reconsider its decision, provided they keep their behaviour in check. Singh told The Times of India that the students have not been expelled and that the committee was neutral and unbiased. She also added that the students’ behaviour will be observed for the next six months, upon which the committee may review the decision.
Chaubey has enrolled in Delhi University for her MA studies, but she says that not all debarred students would be comfortable joining other universities for further studies. “I know some of the debarred students who would want to take up higher studies at BHU itself. But with this decision, we are not sure what the future holds.”