The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), IIT- Bombay strongly condemns the Banares Hindu University (BHU) administration and the Uttar Pradesh Police for the brutal lathi charge on largely women students protesting against the sexual harassment of a fellow student. In another regressive move in keeping with their Brahmanical feudal mentality, the UP administration and police have filed FIR on thousands of unnamed students and asked the students to vacate their hostels.
The current series of events started with the sexual molestation of a woman student just outside her hostel premises on 21st September, in presence of security guards who refused to intervene. The girl sustained injuries on her private parts and had fainted. When the warden and proctorial board wanted to suppress this issue the women students chose to fight rather than accept it as their fate. Shockingly, the security personnel and administration refused to take any action upon the complaint received and instead started victim blaming by asking what she was doing outside hostel premises after 6 PM. The women students in BHU have been continuously discriminated by sexist rules like hostel curfew and moral policing from the administration. From 23rd of September, the brave students of BHU gathered outside the BHU main gate to protest against molestation and lack of safe space within the university campus. As the protest was going on, hundreds of police personnel deployed lathi-charge and fired tear gas on the protesting students. The mainstream media has been maligning the students with baseless accusations. In a last blow against the students, the administration under the VC shut down the hostels, forced the students to vacate and closed the campus till October 2, but still the struggle continues although the students are shaken because of the brutality of lathi-charge. Earlier in September, a girl student was expelled from the hostel since she is lesbian. But unfortunately there was no protest against this discriminatory move.
The BHU campus does not have a GSCASH (Gender Sensitisation and Committee Against Sexual Harassment) which has been a longstanding demand of the students. There is a larger move by the MHRD to dismantle GSCASH all over the country, to be replaced by Internal Complaint Committees which will have a sanitised and reduced mandate. GSCASH, is an independent and inclusive body with elected students, faculty and appointed expert representation, while ICC is appointed by administration. At a time when campuses have been ‘unsafe’ spaces for women, GSCASH is a necessity, for which all the campuses should have consistent struggles. This is a part of the larger mandate of the very same students, who have rejected ABVP-RSS agenda in PU, DU, JNU, Jadavpur and HCU etc. At this juncture, APPSC-IIT Bombay extends wholehearted support to the brave fighting students in BHU who have led a consistent struggle, against the Manuvaadi forces.
● Squashing of all false case of intimidation filed against the protesting students.
● Removal of the VC of BHU and higher officials of university administration who refused to file the complaint against sexual offenders.
● Action against the senior police officials for the brutal lathi-charge
● Formation of GCASH in BHU and all other educational institutions with the mandate to root out incidents of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
● Immediate restoration of students to theirs hostels including the girl student who was dismissed on the basis of homophobia.