24, Sep 2018 | Preksha Malu
Members of the RSS affiliated Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) allegedly attacked students of Banaras Hindu University celebrating the anniversary of gender rights protest that had taken the university by storm last year. They attacked the students on Sunday, the one-year anniversary of the 23 September women’s protest against the shaming of a sexual harassment survivor and discriminatory hostel rules.
A street play and open mic were organised to commemorate the day and press for demands but the students participating were beaten up and assaulted. It is alleged that the police and the BHU Chief Proctor Royana Singh were silent spectators. The students were also allegedly beaten with sticks while journalists are also said to have been attacked.
CJP stands by the students of BHU, their right to protest peacefully and their freedom of expression. We demand that violence and discrimination against female students be brought to an immediate end. Freedom of Expression is one of CJP’s four pillars. To know more, please become a member.
It seems that the resistance towards campus patriarchy and sexist rules was met with fierce opposition from ABVP. On 23 September, it is said that students were lathi-charged for over 50 hours. The demands of that movement were:
- Strict action and investigation against perpetrators of sexual harassment.
- Gender sensitization awareness programs for administrative staff and teachers in the premises.
- Removal of all curfew timings for all students meant to keep them as hostages.
- No discrimination between utensils and food for any student in the women’s dorms.
- Establish GSCASH (Gender Sensitisation Committee and Sexual Harassment)
- Make gender sensitization compulsory at faculty and institutional level.
Students who had gathered to commemorate the movement and pay their respects in a peaceful manner were assaulted by ABVP goons who were shouting slogans like “Jai Shri Ram,” “Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” “Vande Mataram,” “Chinese loyalists should be beaten with shoes,” and more. There are reports of sexual harassment and shameful verbal abuse and threats directed at women. The students argue that the police and the university authorities looked on as this was happening in front of them. The students were also beaten with sticks while journalists are also said to have been attacked.
Students allege that the ‘anti-women’ and ‘anti-student’ university hired these goons to silence them and watched the show while they were being assaulted. They said that the attack was sponsored by the university to silence the women students.
An FIR was also registered. “While ten students were named in the FIR, around a dozen unknown outsiders have also been booked for offences under Sections 147, 354, 323, 504 and 506 of the IPC. As per the complaint, the accused students, allegedly belonging to the ABVP and other outside elements, disrupted the event at Malviya Gate on Sunday evening when the girls were holding nukkad nataks and other cultural programmes to mark their struggle against hostel rules and for gender equality. ‘When we protested [against them for using foul language and harassing us], they got aggressive and started assaulting those present,’ read the complaint by one of the students. The students alleged that they were also threatened with dire consequences. Last September, girls of the BHU had led a campaign against the administration demanding a gender-just space and security for women students,” reported The Hindu.
*Feature Image from October 23, 2017 when female students protesting gender discrimination were lathi charged and beaten.