Banaras: The molestation incident at the campus of Banaras Hindu University created an uproar, after the police on September 23, did Lathi charge on the students who came out to protest against sexual harassment.
The Indian Express summarised some of the experiences of girl students at BHU, who recalled the horror of the night when police without any hesitation started baton charging, regardless of the fact that the protesting people were girl students.
About the discrimination on the bases of gender:
Shivangi Choubey, a Third-year student of English Honours, says her parents rejoiced over her admission in BHU. “It was my father’s dream. He grew up in Jaunpur and saw small-town life closely. He wanted my brother and I to move out of Bihar. BHU was that way out,” she says. They also believed, she says, that BHU was a “sanskari (cultured)” place, unlike colleges in Delhi.
“Only Sanskrit, Hindi and Bengali were offered as languages to students of the women’s college while the men at the Faculty of Arts could choose between German, Spanish and Polish,” she says. In addition to this, girls can’t use their phones after 10 pm.
The 20-year-old student, who aspires to pursue journalism, said: “I am not affiliated to any organisation, I fight for myself. In my first year, I complained to the administration about stray dogs on the MMV (women’s college) campus and lack of water purifiers in the hostels. I also fought for WiFi in women’s hostels, a facility available in all boys’ hostels.”
Another student of Sociology honours spoke about food restriction and said: “I’m a non-vegetarian. We are not only not served non-veg, the mess does not serve eggs on Tuesdays and other Hindu festivals either.”
How police started lathi-charge on protesting girls:
On hearing the molestation incident, Shivangi said: “We were just protesting, but when police began beating us back into our hostels, we burst into a rage as well as tears. That is when we went back out to the main gate and confronted them. That is the photo.”
Shubhi Mishra, another English honours student said, she had shied away from protests earlier as teachers threatened to subtract marks in examinations. “One of my professors was on the proctorial board and she was set to become the warden of the hostel I was to be shifted to. I was scared. I could have lost marks and the allotment of a seat in a hostel, besides being reported to the university’s proctorial board, which is in-charge of security on campus.”
When Shubhi heard about the horrific incident of molestation: “This time, I lost all fear. I did not care. I was so fed up,” she says, adding that she and her room-mates went around the MMV hostel, urging third-years to join the protest. “That is how MMV got involved with the girls from the other hostels,” she recalled.
Another student on anonymity said: “We were only demanding basic rights such as a street lamp and security on campus. We wanted the vice-chancellor to come and listen to us. Instead, the police hit us. That is why we are so angry and enraged in that photo,” she says.
Her family, who is BJP supporter, agrees that the protest was for genuine reasons. “My family believes that it was wrong on the part of the Prime Minister not to meet us. It is his constituency and his responsibility. But they do not want me to appear in the media or be noticed by my professors and they have told me to be careful,” says the 19-year-old, only the second woman in her family to study outside Bihar, after a cousin, who graduated from DU.
Source: The Indian Express