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Crackdown on BHU students: Two police officials removed

A number of students, including women, and two journalists were injured in the baton charge

Image Credit: PTI
Security men detain ABVP members who were protesting in support of Banaras HinduUniversity (BHU) girls’ agitation, outside HRD Ministry in New Delhi.
Gulf News

Varanasi: The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday removed three additional city magistrates and two policemen from their posts in connection with the baton-charge on students in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) during a protest over an alleged harassment incident.

Station Officer of Lanka Police Station Rajiv Singh has been removed and sent to police lines. Station officer of Jaitpura Police Station Sanjiv Mishra has been posted in his place, officials said.

Also, the Circle Officer of Bhelupur, Nivesh Katiyar has been removed and Circle Officer of Kotwali Ayodhya Prasad Singh posted in his place.

A release from Varanasi’s District Information office said three additional city magistrates, Manoj Kumar Singh, Sushil Kumar Gaund and Jagdamma Prasad Singh have also been removed.

A number of students, including women, and two journalists were injured in the baton charge on Thursday.

The protest turned violent when some students, who were demonstrating against harassment, tried to get to the varsity’s vice-chancellor at his residence.

The university’s security guards stopped them and called the cops, according to university sources.

A BHU spokesperson confirmed that some students had tried to force their way into the vice-chancellor’s home, only to be stopped by the guards.

Subsequently, there was stone pelting by “outsiders” who had joined the students, the spokesperson said.

The police baton charged the students in a bid to disperse them, injuring students and journalists.

The police sources said some of its personnel were injured in the clashes during which the students allegedly indulged in arson.

Following the violence, the district administration has declared holidays until October 2 in all colleges and universities in Varanasi; the holidays were scheduled to begin on September 28.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sought a report from the divisional commissioner about the incident as various political parties, including the Samajwadi Party (SP), criticised the government and condemned the police action.

“I have sought a report from the divisional commissioner, Varanasi, about the entire incident,” Adityanath said in Lucknow on Sunday.

The baton charge on journalists led to protests in Lucknow with some journalists staging a sit-in near the chief minister’s residence. They later submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate demanding action against the guilty.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav tweeted, “The government should resolve the issue by talks, not by lathicharge [baton charge]. It is condemnable. Action should be taken against the guilty.”

Congress leaders Raj Babbar and P.L. Punia, along with scores of party activists, were detained on Sunday when they tried to visit the BHU. They were later released.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the police’s actions on Thursday.

Attaching a link to a video of the students who alleged that they were beaten up by male policemen on the campus, Gandhi tweeted, “BJP version of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao in BHU.” He was taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s empower girls through education campaign.

The BHU had issued a statement saying the sit-in by the students just a day before Modi’s visit was “politically motivated” to malign the image of the university.

The alleged harassment incident had occurred on Thursday night after which students started the protest.

The university said security guards regularly patrol campus and assistance from the police had been sought to maintain peace in the campus.

Nearly 1,500 police personnel including contingents of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) have been deployed to maintain law and order on campus.

BHU students said that they undertook the protest near the university’s main gate against harassment on the campus.

A woman student of the Arts Faculty was allegedly harassed by three men on motorcycles on the campus while she was returning to her hostel.

According to the complainant, the men abused her and fled when she resisted their attempts.

The woman alleged that security guards, about 100 metres from where the incident happened, did nothing to stop them.

She said her warden, instead of taking up the issue with her superiors, asked her why was she was returning late to the hostel.

The warden’s response angered the students, who decided to protest.

BHU students have alleged they have to face harassment on campus regularly.