Thursday, November 26, 2020
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A Tale of Two Protests: ‘Students’ at JNU receive a free pass while the students at BHU are demonized for a fair demand

The 'students' of JNU were not demonized so blatantly even when they chanted slogans such as 'Bharat tere tukde hongey inshallah inshallah'. And here we have the media completely misrepresenting the position of the BHU students entirely.

The students at the Banaras Hindu University are protesting over the appointment of a Muslim professor for teaching at the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan (SVDV) faculty at the institution. The students are being accused of bigotry over their stance, however, as we have said earlier, it is perfectly rational to demand that Hindu Theology be taught by someone who has faith in it.

However, the mainstream media continues to slander them. The BBC, for instance, turned the entire matter into a caste issue and used the protests to further peddle its own morbid hatred against the Brahmin community. The BBC’s agenda is particularly malicious considering the fact that OpIndia.com was told specifically by the protesting students that they do not care about the caste or religion, for that matter, of the professor. They had specified the professor could teach Sanskrit language in any other department of the BHU except the theology or Dharma Vigyan one.

BBC Hindi bringing in castesim

Other media organizations were not too far behind. The Free Press Journal called the protests a ‘new low for education’.

Cleverly skipping the part that Muslim Professor teaching in Dharma Vigyan faculty.

The Indian Express claimed that the protests speak of ‘dismal times’. It said, “It is a measure of the hatefulness and narrow-mindedness that has come to permeate the national atmosphere that the appointment of a young Muslim Sanskrit scholar, Firoz Khan, as an assistant professor in the literature department of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan at Banaras Hindu University has brought forth protests from his to-be colleagues as well as the faculty’s PhD students, demanding a cancellation of the appointment.”

Indian Express called it ‘dismal times’ and assumed there wouldn’t be any protests had the professor been ‘European’.

Indian Express also says how there probably wouldn’t have been any objection had the candidate been ‘European’, comparing religious beliefs to nationality.

LiveMint, meanwhile, was muted in comparison to others and only reproduced an article by PTI that called the protests ‘absurd’ and a ‘shame’. It said, “The protest is a shame. For one, such discrimination violates the Constitution. For another, BHU is governed by University Grants Commission rules, and the appointment was above board. The professor holds a PhD in Sanskrit literature. It’s a classical language that’s open to anybody who wants to study or teach it. Any “Aryan” association is entirely irrelevant. These protesters should look up the Rigveda. “Let noble thoughts come to us from every side,” it says.”

LiveMint on BHU protests

In their efforts to malign the protesters at BHU, the media has again engaged in completely misrepresenting the point of view of the students of the University. First of all, the faculty is not for merely teaching Sanskrit. A separate department exists for that within the BHU. The faculty in question exists to teach students Hindu Theology. There’s a huge difference between the two.

Secondly, due to its own biases, the media has completely ignored the allegations of corruption against the institution. For purpose of fairness, the media would normally be expected to evaluate the allegations on their merits but on this particular occasion, they have dismissed it entirely.

Read: A Hindu perennially ashamed and guilty: How narrative after Ayodhya verdict is trying to achieve it

Thirdly, instead of asking the question whether the concerned professor is eligible to teach Hindu Theology and whether it would be preferable to have someone who has actual faith in Hinduism to teach the subject, they have ignored it entirely and brushed it under the carpet. They appear to have deliberately misrepresented the students’ arguments to suit their own benefits.

One student had told OpIndia, “If we do not protest now, then 15 years hence this faculty will have one Muslim professor, faculty head and even dean. They will appoint more Muslims and a time will come when the ones who will be in charge of ‘Hindu Dharma Vigyan’ stream will be non-Hindus. Those who do not have any connection to Hindu Sanatan traditions, Yagnas and Jyotish.”

Another student said, “We do not have teachers, we have gurus. Everyone here keeps a ‘choti’, touches feet of the elders and conduct havans and yagnas. The professor who has been appointed identifies his religion as ‘Muslim’. If he is appointed, will it not be discrimination against the students who follow the Vedic Sanatan traditions?”

Under these circumstances, how is it bigotry for the students to demand that they be taught by someone who is suited to the task? It is unfair to the Muslim professor himself to expect him to be a faithful practitioner of Yagnas and Jyotish. And it is grossly unfair to the students themselves that they be forced to abandon the traditional manner in which Theology is taught.

The sole responsibility for this mess lies with the administration and administration alone. However, the administration has been given a free pass by the media while the students have been demonized for making a very rational demand. The conduct of the mainstream media in response to the protests at BHU stands in stark contrast to their conduct when ‘students’ at JNU indulge in political protests.

Here we have students protesting over an issue that is fundamental to their education and the media has abandoned them completely. But when ‘students’ at JNU indulge in vandalism, senseless political sloganeering, harassing their professors, not allowing ambulances to pass, the very same media jumps to defend the students and demonizes the administration.

Read: JNU faculty member Dr Vandana Mishra kept in illegal captivity by protesting ‘students’ inside classroom

Why is the media treating the two groups of students differently? One group is protesting about an issue that affects their education significantly while the other is indulging in toxic politics. And yet, it’s the first group that is demonized by ’eminent intellectuals’ while the latter is defended on the basis of ‘freedom of expression’. Why these double-standards? Unfortunately, all of us know why.

The ‘students’ of JNU were not demonized so blatantly even when they chanted slogans such as ‘Bharat tere tukde hongey inshallah inshallah’. Their Jihadist chants were defended under the garb of ‘Freedom of Expression’ by ’eminent intellectuals’. And here we have the media completely misrepresenting the position of the BHU students entirely. Perhaps, it’s because protests in JNU are ‘secular’ while those in BHU is ‘saffron’.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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