A Sanskrit professor at the Banaras Hindu University was allegedly attacked by students on Monday for supporting the appointment of Muslim professor Firoz Khan, IANS reported. Khan’s appointment had led to weeks-long protest in November after students demanded his transfer to another department because of his religion.
Professor Shanti Lal Salvi told reporters in Lucknow that he was sitting in a classroom when some students barged in and started abusing him. “They asked me to stop supporting a Muslim’s appointment to the faculty,” he said.
Salvi said he left the classroom as he felt unsafe. “Some of the students then hurled stones at me and later caught up with me and shoved and pushed me,” he added. “I could escape because a stranger gave me a lift on his scooter.”
A student who acknowledged being part of the group said they asked him to stop supporting Khan but denied attacking him.
Salvi alleged that a fellow university professor has incited the students against him, according to The Indian Express. “For the last many years, he has been harassing me,” Salvi alleged. “He has spread a rumour among the students that my wife, who has done PhD from BHU, is Muslim and she is the sister of Firoz Khan. He has also told the students that I am the one who brought Firoz here and that’s why the students attacked me today.”
The professor said he has complained to Vice Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar about the incident, adding that he will register an First Information Report against those who assaulted him. The college administration has promised to set up an inquiry committee to investigate the attack on Salvi.
No classes have been held in Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vijnan faculty of the Banaras Hindu University since Khan’s appointment. It is also being speculated that Khan might be transferred to another department. Chief Proctor OP Rai met the student demonstrators on Monday, and said Khan’s appointment would be discussed at the executive council meeting of the university.