Pressure mounts on VC as probe panel blames varsity for BHU row

Pressure mounted on Banaras Hindu University (BHU) vice-chancellor GC Tripathi on Tuesday after the probe panel headed by Varanasi divisional commissioner blamed the varsity administration for last weekend’s violence on the campus.

Students, mostly girls, were cane-charged on Saturday night when they were protesting the university’s alleged inaction over a reported molestation on the campus on Thursday.

The police crackdown and the clashes that followed left several students and policemen injured.

Earlier in the day, the two-member committee that probed into the violence and police lathi-charge on girls on BHU campus blamed the university administration for not handling the situation in a sensitive manner.

The committee, comprising divisional commissioner Nitin Ramesh Gokarn and additional director general of police Vishwajeet Mahapatra, sent the 40-page report to chief secretary Rajive Kumar.

According to sources, the probe report said the situation would not have turned violent had the BHU administration taken the complaint of sexual harassment seriously.

“The report states that the incident of harassment occurred on September 21 evening. The girl lodged a complaint with chief proctor Dr ON Singh but it was not taken seriously,” sources said, citing the report.

The report added that as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath were in Varanasi, several organisations staged a protest to draw their attention towards the issue.

Some external students took advantage of the situation and extended their support to the agitation, the report said.

According to report, the BHU administration failed to assess the seriousness of the agitation and kept district administrative officials in the dark.

Had the VC or registrar listened to the girls who were demanding action in molestation case, the situation would not have taken an ugly turn, it said.

The committee prepared the report after holding an open hearing on Monday. As many as 27 people, including students, social activists and student leaders, attended the hearing. Some of them recorded their statements while others presented evidences.

Photos and videos from people present inside the campus and at the entrance of the BHU’s main gate showed large groups of police descending on students who had gathered at the two locations. Some videos, which HT could not independently verify, showed male cops raining lathi blows on girl students.

When HT contacted the divisional commissioner, he refused to comment on the report.

“The probe report is confidential and it has been sent to the state government,” he said.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also issued a notice to chief secretary, director general of police (DGP) and BHU VC seeking a detailed report on the matter.

“Suo motu cognizance taken in subsequent use of unwarranted manhandling and thrashing of agitating students, mostly women, by UP police”, the NHRC said.

BHU VC Girish Chandra Tripathi told media persons in New Delhi that an inquiry committee had been formed under the chairmanship of former judge of the Allahabad high court justice (retd) VK Dikshit.

He, however, refused to comment on the report submitted by Varanasi divisional commissioner Nitin Ramesh Gokarn which dubbed the university administration as guilty, saying he had not read the report.

He denied reports that claimed he had been summoned by the ministry of human resource development to explain violence on the campus.

“This is false news doing rounds in the media. I have not been summoned by the HRD ministry,” he said.