VARANASI: The brutal lathi charge on the students, most of them girls, by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s police failed to quell the protests, although this was the clear intention behind the order to the police to attack the protestors.

The entire exercise, as now visible in videos, was to terrorise the students with the police first gathering at the gates, then with a loud war cry charging the students, hitting them with lathis, thrashing them mercilessly and making no differentiation between the girls and the boys. This happened on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting his parliamentary constituency, and despite the claims of his local BJP constituency managers that “nothing” moves in Varanasi without his knowledge.

The students can be seen in the videos, running for their lives as the cops chase them, catch and beat them, regardless. In one of the videos a girl pinned to the ground by a cop is beaten mercilessly by two others with lathis. The city and the University has reacted badly to the attack, with the RSS Vice Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi taking up the cudgels for the government and the party. But after the first rush of fear, the students got back to the protest site with girls in the lead, taking on the police, seething with anger.

As local Varanasi leaders said, “Tripathi is a RSS/BJP appointment and clearly is saying and doing what he is at their instructions.” He has been in attack mode from the word ‘go’, defending the attack on the students, insisting that they were being instigated, that ‘outsiders’ were demonstrating, that political parties wanted to create trouble during PM Modi’s visit to Varanasi.

This has been firmly disputed by the students who are fed up with the new rules in the Varsity discriminating between girls and boys, and placing the former in a situation where they do not even get the same non vegetarian food as available to the male students in their hostels. Timings too are different, with the University authorities doing little to improve the security in the campus with proper patrolling and adequate lighting.

Instead Tripathi now has said that the initial protest sparked by the molestation of a girl student in the campus, and the BHU administration’s refusal to take action, was “a simple case of eve teasing.” He has since been summoned to Delhi, although it is not clear for what. Earlier Prime Minister Modi spoke to CM Adityanath over the phone with government spin doctors of course maintaining that the former pulled his junior up but again there is no evidence of this as the VC continues to deride the girl students and defend the police brutality. He has not moved an inch away from the justification of the violence.

There is no action against the molesters although a couple of policemen and a few babus have been transferred. Only transferred not even suspended. A probe by the Varanasi Divisional Commissioner was ordered and the report has just been sent to the CM. The VC remains adamant and forceful about his position, with the Delhi visit not expected to remove him from his berth as there has not been a word of condemnation from either the PM or from party chief Amit Shah. At best he might change his harsh language to a more conciliatory tone, a Professor here said.

Instead the students have been ordered to vacate their hostels, with girls having to leave without bookings on the trains. Many of them told local reporters how worried they were about travelling long distance in a general compartment in these times, with some being accommodated by local faculty.

Varanasi is Prime Minister Modi’s constituency, and hence he cannot wash his hands off the BHU incident. He has not condemned the incident yet, nor has he ordered remedial measures that could have included seven immediate measures;

Set up an impartial enquiry;

  • Suspend the VC until the enquiry report is submitted. Sack him subsequently if required;

  • Suspend the top cops and district officials;

  • Immediately announce action against the molesters, FIR and their arrests;

  • Place into motion a security plan for the campus;

  • Remove with immediate effect the discriminatory rules against the girl students, and restore gender equality;

  • Deliver a public apology to the students.
  • Compensate the students beaten and attacked by the cops.