Protests by students on the appointment of Dr Feroz Khan in the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan (SVDV) faculty of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) entered its 20th day today. Though the students of Banaras Hindu University had decided to stop their demonstration temporarily, giving 10 days to the management to come to an amicable decision regarding their demands over the appointment of a Muslim professor, they have continued with their agitation against the same.
As a part of the ongoing agitation, the protesting students have today organised a consultation meeting at Assi ghat in Varanasi. In the meet, three prominent personalities were invited as guest speakers including, former SVDV student and the head of the Ved department, senior professor Hriday Ranjan Sharma, former SVDV student and Sampurnanand Sanskrit University Rector Prof Vashisht Tripathi and another ex-SVDV student and renowned poet Dr Anil Chaubey. On 25th November, students, under the aegis of Kashi Vidhwat Parishad, had organised a meeting at the Simha Dwar at BHU. Many scholars including former SVDV faculty and head of grammar department, Ramyatna Shukla, had participated and put forward their views.
#BHU के सिंहद्वार पर धर्म सभा करते #SVDV के छात्र, इस आयोजन में काशी के कई धर्माचार्य, विद्वतजन और बड़ी संख्या में छात्र शामिल हैं। प्रशासन के पास 7 और शेष हैं, #FerozeKhan मामले में अपने निर्णय लेने के लिए… छात्रों का आन्दोलन सतत जारी है…… pic.twitter.com/VnRKP50ees
— Ravi Agrahari (@Ravibhu09) November 25, 2019
Speaking to OpIndia, Sashikant Mishra, one of the main organisers of the event said, “If you are following the path of truth, gods automatically helps you. Today we are thankful to all of you especially OpIndia for helping us convey our truth to everyone. We also thank the people of the country to stand by us despite the lies being spread on media. We urge everyone to support us in our endeavour until the end.”
Thanking OpIndia for helping them bust the misinformation being spread about their agitation, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith Vice Chancellor pulled up the media for spreading lies. He said, “Why are you being a judge? By writing ‘Sanskrit department and Muslim teacher’ in headlines you are misleading the entire country. Why don’t you tell what is the actual matter? Dr Khan is not appointed in Sanskrit department but in ‘Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan’ faculty. This is not about protesting against Muslims but about securing the sanctity of Sanatan Dharma. Stop worrying about what will be the outcome of the protests, but at least put out the real picture,” he said.
It is pertinent to note here, that OpIndia has been persistently following every single development and bringing to you exclusive ground reports and the accurate version of the students demands from the very beginning. A deliberate attempt has been made by the media to demonize the students for their fair concerns. However, we have striven hard to portray the accurate version of events.
It is noteworthy that when the students were protesting about the appointment of Professor Feroz Khan, all the media groups across the country ran this news as if the appointment of a Muslim teacher was being opposed in the entire BHU but it is not the case.
In reality, the current protests are against the appointment of a non-Hindu to the ‘Faculty of Theology’. There are two departments for Sanskrit in BHU, one under Arts Faculty and the other under SVDV Faculty. The first is the study of Sanskrit and the other is the theology of religion. There are different ways of studying in these two. Sanskrit is taught as a language in the Sanskrit department. At the same time, in the SVDV, students are taught about the customs, mantras, shlokas, rituals of worship and rituals of Sanatan Dharma.
Yesterday, to discuss the future course of action, the students gathered at the Ruia hostel on the November 24th evening and the next day, a group of nearly 40 students, including research scholars of different departments in the faculty of SVDV, gathered to perform Rudrabhishek (special prayers and worship) of Lord Shiva at Vishwanath temple on the campus on Monday.
#BHU के संस्कृत विद्या धर्म विज्ञान संकाय के छात्रों का आंदोलन जारी है। आज छात्रों ने परिसर स्थित विश्वनाथ मंदिर में बाबा का रुद्राभिषेक किया। शाम को बीएचयू सिंहद्वार गेट पर करेंगे मीटिंग। इस दौरान शशिकांत, चक्रपाणि, कृष्ण, शुभम, आनंद सहित बड़ी संख्या में छात्र मौजूद रहे। pic.twitter.com/66SWPC2EZE
— Ravi Agrahari (@Ravibhu09) November 25, 2019
Besides drawing support from current and past professors of BHU, this protest has also attained the support of other gurus and maha acharyas of various institutions in Banaras. In fact, professors of the famous Kashi Vidhut Parishad in Banaras and the Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith have also extended their support to the same.
Speaking to OpIndia after the Rudrabhishek event, Chakrapani Ojha answering to media questions on how their agitation was different from the protest being carried out by the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that “we will never cross our boundaries and will always keep in mind the values imbibed in us by our gurus”.
On being further questioned by OpIndia on how media has been lying and vilifying BHU students and on how Rahul Kanwal of India Today bullied him during a debate, not letting him put his points across, Ojha said, “we have displayed our values by the way we have been conducting ourselves even while protesting, and what Rahul Kanwal did was a display of his values, which the entire country has witnessed.” He furthered that the disparity the Lutyen’s media has shown in their coverage and attitude towards the protesting students of JNU and BHU have also been publically displayed and we (students of BHU) have, in fact, benefitted out of it, said Chakrapani Ojha.
Shamefully, a debate conducted on November 21, on India Today, which was meant to be between a BHU student called Chakrapani Ojha and one Professor Mahesh Ahirwar, had become Rahul Kanwal’s rude, arrogant, shameless tirade against the student, when in an arrogant tone, Rahul Kanwal first told the students that we want people from all over the world to learn Sanskrit, but BHU students, by blocking the appointment of a professor who is a Sanskrit gyaani from India, have defamed BHU not only in India but the entire World.
Rahul Kanwal then went on to open his eyes wide with an excessively scary, and creepy expression and told the student that according to his professor, the students are a ‘kalank’ (black mark). Then, he had asked the student to be ashamed.
Meanwhile, a day before, on November 24, two Emeritus Professors of SVDV, Prof. Reva Prasad Dwivedi and Prof. Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi had written a three-page letter to President Ramnath Kovind, signed by 50 other professors, 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.
Both Emeritus Professors of the Faculty of Religion said 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.
The fact to understand in the entire controversy is that BHU has a separate Arts department that teaches Sanskrit as a linguistic endeavour. Just as one would perhaps learn French or English or even Hindi. The Sanskrit being taught at the Dharma Vigyan department has deep religious significance.
It is not wrong for BHU students to want to learn their own faith from someone who is a practitioner of the faith. In fact, the BHU students have categorically stated that they have no problem with Dr Khan and that he should be shifted to the Arts faculty to teach Sanskrit as a linguistic endeavour.