A Moral Campus
A fortnight ago, when different pockets of the country were getting ready to roll out the red carpet for one very powerful woman, a woman student of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was molested on campus by some bike-borne men. When she tried to register a complaint, the proctor’s office turned her away. But when outraged students took to protest and sloganeering, and demanded that the vice-chancellor hear them out, the same office swung into action. Warnings were issued and police was deployed to take action against the demonstrators.
According to reports, police lathicharged students, women students were dragged by the hair etc., etc. It was VC G.C. Tripathi’s turn to be outraged. First, he said the lathicharge didn’t happen at all. Next, he dubbed the entire episode a conspiracy, including the molestation charge. Then, he tried to tease out the nuanced difference between eve-teasing and molestation. What happened at BHU was the former, he pointed out, lest you missed the point. He was pained, but at the attempt to paint black the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya. It was nothing less than sedition, he said.
With the whole country tuning into the episode, the VC now started saying that the complainant was happy with the steps taken by the university. He blamed “outsiders” for trying to mar the PM’s visit to his holy constituency. Said the protesting women students were those who ventured out of the campus beyond 8pm. Imagine! And when he finally proceeded to comment on the still-to-be-traced molesters, it was to invoke the then missing Honeypreet. If police couldn’t arrest a known face like hers etc., etc... Don’t ask.
C’est la vie
Perhaps it was the Honeypreet analogy, perhaps it was the PMO’s intervention, perhaps it was because he really wanted to get along with his grand Diwali prep... Whatever be the reason, the UP CM finally spoke up. He too cried conspiracy. First, the Gorakhpur infants and now these women. Reports quoting UGC data emerged stating that one-fourth of India’s sexual harassment cases emanated from campuses in UP. At BHU, the old proctor resigned and a new one was appointed — a woman. Royona Singh is named after a French town and is a professor of Anatomy. Tripathi has gone on indefinite leave. Reason: personal.