Students of the Banaras Hindu University on Friday ended their weeks-long protest against the appointment of a Muslim professor in the Sanskrit department. The students had called for a replacement for Professor Firoz Khan, whose appointment was announced earlier this month.
The agitation ended a day after the university said that the Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vijnan had been reopened. The university, in a statement, said that the protests were called off around 5.30 pm on Friday, a day after a meeting of the students and the varsity’s administration.
Earlier in the day, the students, mainly from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, had carried on their agitation against Khan’s appointment. ABVP leader Chakrapani Ojha said the dean of the Sanskrit literature department had met the protesting students on Friday and assured them of an investigation into the matter.
Ojha claimed they would resume protests if no action was taken in 10 days into the “irregularity” in Khan’s appointment. “We have asked the administration to give us written replies on whether all guidelines were followed in the appointment of Professor Khan,” Ojha told NDTV. “So we are going to keep an eye on this. For now, we will not attend classes.”
It is unclear at the moment whether Khan will begin teaching in the department.
Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, to which the ABVP is affiliated, said it did not agree with the protesting students. The organisation’s leader Jai Prakash Lal said they conducted a meeting in Varanasi in which they deemed the protests as wrong.
A spokesperson of the university said several discussions with students were held on Thursday in the vice chancellor’s office. It was decided that classes would resume from Friday.
On November 15, the BHU administration voiced its support to Khan and said that it was committed to providing equal opportunities to everyone, irrespective of their religion, caste, community or gender. A day before this, the protestors had met Vice Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar and the Head of Department Umakant Chaturvedi, and demanded that Khan’s appointment be cancelled. They were informed that the offer to Khan cannot be rescinded.
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