Varanasi: Even as sit-in protest continued on Thursday (15th consecutive day) against Firoz Khan’s appointment in the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), support for Firoz Khan began pouring in from various quarters.
Taking to Twitter, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi defended Khan’s appointment saying that the languages and culture are our strength. She added “Sanskrit language, as well as the constitution of our country, have vastness. Any teacher can teach Sanskrit in a university.”
Blaming the government for the controversy, BSP president Mayawati said education and politics of religion or caste cannot be linked.
Even, Dev Pujari, the national organisational secretary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Sanskrit Bharti, expressed shock over the issue, saying that the grounds of protest are absurd. She said the Sanskrit language teaches culture, not religion and the language is for all. She asked BHU students to withdraw the protest.
Union Minister Dhotre Sanjay Shamrao said that if there are ‘irregularities’ in the system, they can be highlighted by other means.
However, Ashish Chauhan, national general secretary of ABVP, which is supporting the protest demanded an inquiry into the appointment.
Academicians also came out in support of Firoz Khan. Professor Radhavallabh Tripathi, an eminent Sanskrit scholar says Firoz Khan was selected on the basis of his qualification and he was the most qualified person best suited for the post. He blamed vested interests for the resistance against the appointment.
Shastri Kosalendra Das, an Assistant Professor in Philosophy Department of Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Sanskrit University, Jaipur describes the protest against Khan a threat to Sanskrit language and to the constitution as well.
He pointed out that books have been written in Sanskrit by Muslims and Christians over the past 400 years. He revealed that five Muslim students are studying Sanskrit in his department alone.
According to Outlook magazine, Das also drew attention to the fact that Mughal emperor Akbar had ordered the translation of Mahabharata from Sanskrit to Persian. “One lakh (100,000) Shlokas were translated into Persian and today, a copy of this work can be found in the ‘City Palace Museum’ of Jaipur,” Das said. The Persian translation of Mahabharatha is known as “Razmnama”.
Giving a solution to the problem, Prof. Mohammad Shamim, Head of the Sanskrit Department at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) said Dr Khan can be allowed to teach all other papers except ‘Karm kand’ (religious rituals) to end the controversy.
Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal termed the protest by students against the appointment of Dr. Khan as “idiocy”, he tweeted: “Stunned by the protest against Professor Feroz Khan! What has language to do with Religion!?!?!? Irony is professor Feroz has done his Masters and Ph.D. in Sanskrit !!! For Heaven’s sake, stop this god damn idiocy!”
He added: By same logic great singer late Shri Mohammad Rafi ji should not have sung any BHAJANS and Naushad Saab should not have composed them !!!!
Voices within BHU
Backing the Muslim professor’s appointment, BHU Chancellor Giridhar Malviya, who is the grandson of university founder Madan Mohan Malviya, said if the latter were alive, he, too, would have approved the appointment.
Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar is firm on his stand that Khan’s appointment was legitimate. Several BHU professors have also come out in support of Khan, while some of the staff at the faculty appear to support the protesting students.
As for the students, it is like protest vs protest in BHU with some SVDV students protesting against the appointment of Firoz Khan, while outfits like the NSUI, Youth for Swaraj and AISA under the banner of Joint Action Committee (JAC) took out a peace march on the campus on Wednesday evening in support of Dr Firoz Khan. They were holding placards that read ‘We are with you Dr Firoz Khan’. Even several students from the Sanksrit department want to have Dr. Khan as a teacher because he possesses the required qualification and talent.
However, upset by the agitation, Dr Firoz Khan has left for his village in Jaipur three days ago. Distressed over the agitation against him he is said to have stopped talking the media.