Several Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students, many of them girls, were injured on Saturday night after violent police action including lathi-charge, use of tear gas and even rubber bullets.
The students were protesting since three days against alleged molestation of a university girl and the failure of the administration to act against the attackers.
On Saturday evening, BHU’s VC GC Tripathi promised to meet students inside the Mahila Mahavidyalaya, but he did not turn-up after promising twice. Students on realising that this was just a ploy to move them back to the Mahila Mahavidyala, returned to the main gate to resume their protests.
“A lot of students have arrived at the BHU’s trauma centre and the situation is tense but there are no major injuries,” a hospital official told HT on condition of anonymity. Six policemen were also injured, eyewitnesses said.
“Stones were also thrown by both sides and several vehicles were set alight,” Amrit Dasgupta, who lives close to the BHU main gate in the Lanka area of Varanasi, told HT over phone.
He saw police vehicles, including buses, and riot-control vans enter the campus.
The students alleged that the police thrashed them and pulled them through hair but the Varanasi district magistrate, who was present on the spot, denied the claims.
The crackdown came after the students intensified the protest and within few hours of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ending his two-day visit to Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency.
The protests began on Thursday after a first-year boarder from the hostel was allegedly touched inappropriately by three bike-borne men near the Kala Bhawan within the BHU campus on Thursday. Students said, “When the student was molested on Thursday evening at 6, she shouted for help but the guards sitting there did not come forward or chase the bike. She went and complained to her warden and the chief proctor but they began shaming her.”
Nearly 1,500 policemen, including PAC personnel have been deployed and Section-144, a curfew like lock-down situation is imposed at BHU to control the situation. The police had earlier failed to resolve the matter after a series of negotiations with the students.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sought a report on Sunday from Divisional Commissioner about the incident as various political parties, including the Samajwadi Party, criticised the government and condemned the police action.
In an attempt to calm the situation, the University administration has announced a leave starting from Monday until October 2, 2017.