A Dalit professor at the Lucknow University was assaulted by a student on Wednesday on campus allegedly for his remarks about Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath temple, PTI reported.
A postgraduate student of Sanskrit, Karthik Pandey, was arrested by the police for breach of peace on campus, The Indian Express reported. The police have also invoked the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, against him. Pandey was also removed as the office-bearer of the Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha, the Samajwadi Party’s student wing and suspended from the Lucknow University, PTI reported.
The professor, Ravi Kant Chandan, said that Pandey hurled abuses and casteist slurs before assaulting. “This incident shows that my life is under constant threat,” Chandan said.
Chandan alleged that he was assaulted after he spoke about the dispute surrounding the Kashi Vishwanath temple and Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi on May 10. He was booked by the Uttar Pradesh Police based on a complaint filed by a student named Aman Dubey.
It was alleged that the remarks made by the professor during an online debate for a news website had hurt the sentiments of Hindu students on campus.
Chandan claimed that he had not given his personal opinion during the debate but had quoted a story from the book Feathers and Stones written by B Pattabhi Sitaramayya.
Gyanvapi mosque-Kashi temple case
On May 12, a Varanasi court had allowed a survey commission to carry out videography inside the Gyanvapi mosque, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The order was passed on a petition filed by five Hindu women last year, seeking permission to offer daily prayers and observe rituals at the back of the western wall of the mosque. They have claimed that an image of the Hindu deity Shringar Gauri exists at the site.
On May 16, the Varanasi court passed an order to seal a portion of the mosque after the lawyer representing Hindu women claimed that an idol of the Hindu deity Shiva was found after draining the mosque’s wazu khana – or ablution tank. The mosque committee has said that the object is not a shivling, but a part of a stone fountain in the wazu khana.