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Crackdown on BHU students is ‘disgraceful’ : Amnesty India criticises police action

“Both authorities & U P police have shown shameful abdication of their duty to respect and protect rights of BHU students” said The Amnesty International India on crackdown of students at BHU

Students protest against the Banaras Hindu University’s handling of a sexual harassment complaint, September 24(PTI)

Asmita Basu, Programmes Director, has said “University authorities must not turn a blind eye to allegations of sexual harassment & discrimination. The students have right for peaceful protest. The police say some of the students threw stones at them but this cannot be an excuse to baton- charge female students who were doing peaceful protest

The statement released on Amnesty’s official website further states “The police have registered thousand cases against the students but not one against the officials who used excessive or unnecessary force. Both authorities & U P police have shown shameful abdication of their duty to respect and protect rights of BHU students “.

The violence broke out after police forcibly removed students from outside the vice-chancellor’s residence and a campus gate. They were protesting against the failure of the authorities to act against motorcycle-borne men who allegedly molested a university student.

Tension ran high at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi on Sunday after an overnight police crackdown on students demonstrating against an alleged molestation on the campus and demanding bringing the culprits to justice.

Several students, mostly women, and policemen were wounded in clashes after university guards and cops cane-charged protesters in front of the vice chancellor’s home and at the main entrance to the century-old institution’s sprawling campus around midnight. The conduct receiving wide condemnation and criticism from people around the country forced the government to investigate the matter.

The incident took place on Thursday evening when an Arts Faculty student was allegedly harassed by three men on a motorcycle inside the campus while she was returning to her hostel. The student alleged that her warden, instead of taking up the issue, asked her why was she was returning so late. The incident triggered protests by students over the lack of safety and alleged “victim shaming”.

The students alleged that the campus security and police hit them with lathis, pulled many of them by their hair and dragged them out. The Saturday night crackdown that left several students, most of them women, injured, was widely condemned, with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav hitting out at the Yogi Adityanath.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sought a report from the divisional commissioner about the incident as various political parties, “I have sought a report from the divisional commissioner, Varanasi, about the entire incident,” Mr. Adityanath said in Lucknow on Sunday.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday transferred three additional city magistrates and two policemen after several Banaras Hindu University students were injured in a cane-charge during a protest against alleged molestation of female hosteller. A release from Varanasi’s district information office said three additional city magistrates, Manoj Kumar Singh, Sushil Kumar Gaund and Jagdamma Prasad Singh, too, have been removed.

The fracas forced the university to bring forward its Dussehra break by three days to September 25. Several other Uttar Pradesh universities, too, advanced their festival holidays to prevent the unrest from spreading and engulfing their institutes.

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