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Students Injured As Police Lathicharge During Late Night Clashes At BHU

Just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi left Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi following his two-city visit, clashes erupted at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) around 11 pm between the police and a group of protesting students who tried to enter the Vice Chancellor’s residence. The police claim that the students threw stones at them and they had to lathicharge to contain violence on the campus. About six to seven students got injured in the incident.

The students claim that the police lathicharged without provocation and didn’t even spare women students. They also alleged that the cops entered a girls’ hostel. At least three motorcycles were set on fire in the violence allegedly by some of the protesters. The main gate of the university has been cleared of protesting students.

The situation is tense, but officials say Dussehra holidays, which are about to begin, could diffuse tension.

Students have been protesting against the university administration’s alleged inaction and victim shaming after a first-year woman student reported an incident of molestation on Thursday.

The woman alleged that three bike-borne men harassed her inside the campus when she returned to her hostel on Thursday evening. The men abused her and fled when she resisted their attempts, she said. She alleged that security guards, who were right there, did nothing to stop them and her hostel warden, instead of taking up the issue with the administration, asked her why was she returning late to the hostel.

The warden’s response angered the students who sat on ‘dharna’ at the main gate later that evening. One of the students reportedly got her head tonsured.

“She is in trauma and such an incident can happen to anyone. This campus is not safe at all,” said Ankita Singh, a protesting student.

The students say they just want to meet the Vice Chancellor to urge him to ensure safety on the campus. “If you go inside the campus in the evening, you will realise that harassment is a common problem here,” said Shweta Mishra, a student.

The protesting students had hoped that PM Modi would meet them. However, on Thursday, when the Prime Minister and his entourage were supposed to pass by the main gate of the university, their route was reportedly changed by his security officers.

Sources in the university administration say the BHU campus is huge and open to public and policing every area is not possible. Nonetheless, security inside the campus would be reviewed, they promised.

Rajesh Kumar Singh, the public relations officer of BHU, however, said, “80 per cent of the protesters are outsiders. This is a politically-motivated protest.”