The matter of the appointment of Dr Firoz Khan, appointed in the literature department of the Faculty of SVDV (Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan) of BHU (Banaras Hindu University), has not yet settled. The students may have stopped their demonstrations but their agitation continues. The students led by Chakrapani Ojha, Shashikant Mishra, Krishna etc. submitted a memorandum to the PMO yesterday.
Now, two Emeritus Professors of SVDV, Prof. Reva Prasad Dwivedi and Prof. Kamlesh Dutt Tripathil have written a three-page letter to President Ramnath Kovind expressing their displeasure over the entire controversy. Both professors are well-known names in the field of Sanskrit and Religion and having served in the faculty for almost 50 years, have also held the posts of Head of Department and Dean.
It is clear in the letter to the President that the provision of religious studies has been preserved till date since independence, in accordance with the spirit of BHU Act and protected by amendments by the Parliament. The religious education provided by the Faculty of SVDV is awarded only to students of Indian religions and faith to become Acharyas by traditional method. The letter has been signed by 50 other professors.
Professor Reva Prasad Dwivedi said, “It was absolutely wrong. Neither the Vice Chancellor is aware of the rules nor the Dean, Head of Department and Registrar. It is a question of religion. Students salute by touching the feet in the faculty, now they will hesitate. No one will come here to study.”
Based on the BHU Act-1915 and Amended Act 1951, the tradition has been going on in this faculty for almost 104 years where only Hindu, Sanatan schools, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs can participate in teaching and learning. If a non-Hindu teacher is appointed, the students of Shastri Acharya classes of religious rituals will be deprived of the roots of the tradition and the rule which has been in existence for more than a hundred years will be broken.
Both Emeritus Professors of the Faculty of Religion say that the appointment of a Muslim teacher in the Religious Literature Department of this Faculty is against both the sentiments of religious education and the Kashi scholarly tradition and the Act and tradition of BHU. He has also requested the President to protect the dignity of the university and to get rid of this problem.
BHU executive will rethink
The controversy over the appointment of Dr Firoz Khan has been taken cognizance of by the Executive Council of BHU. Council members will also reconsidered the entire appointment process and its legality in an upcoming meeting. The members of the Executive Council said that this episode has made a mockery of BHU all over the world. In a conversation with OpIndia, BHU sources said that this is the first time in the history of the university during the tenure of VC Rakesh Bhatnagar when envelopes of appointments on academic posts were opened without placing them before the executive.
The Vice Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar had obtained prior consent from the Executive Council till 20 November, saying that he feared that if this was not done then the Ministry of Human Resources and UGC will lapse these posts, hence he asked to be given the right to appoint them without observing the formalities. He claimed that this has also happened in JNU. The same happened in the case of Firoz Khan, his interview took place on 5 November and he was given the appointment letter on 6 November. Seeing such haste, other appointments made by him in the university are also being questioned.