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BHU professor ‘attacked’ for backing Feroze

'They asked me to stop supporting a Muslim’s appointment to the faculty': Professor

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 10.12.19, 2:49 AM
  • Updated 10.12.19, 2:49 AM
  • a min read
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Banaras Hindu University (Shutterstock)

A Sanskrit professor at Banaras Hindu University has alleged he was attacked by a group of students on Monday afternoon because of his support for Muslim teacher Feroze Khan’s appointment to the department as assistant professor.

“I was sitting in a classroom when some students barged in and started abusing me in foul language,” Shanti Lal Salvi, the professor, told reporters in Varanasi.

“They asked me to stop supporting a Muslim’s appointment to the faculty. I felt unsafe and came out. Some of the students then hurled stones at me and later caught up with me and shoved and pushed me. I could escape because a stranger gave me a lift on his scooter.”

Salvi alleged a colleague had instigated the students but would not name him before the media. “I have complained to vice-chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar against a professor of the department and some students,” he said.

A student who acknowledged being part of the group that had accosted Salvi said they had only asked the professor to stop supporting Khan and never attacked him.

Some students of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Sankay department have been protesting Khan’s appointment on the ground that a Muslim cannot teach Hindu religious texts, which the department’s syllabus includes.

There’s speculation that Khan may be shifted to the department of Samhita and Sanskrit, part of the university’s faculty of Ayurveda, or the Sanskrit department of the arts faculty as a compromise.

He has appeared in interviews held by the two departments, on November 29 and on December 4.

No classes have been held in the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Sankay department since November 8, the day after Khan’s appointment. The classes closed anyway in the last week of November because of the impending semester exams, scheduled on December 5.

A fresh student dharna later forced the Sanskrit department’s exams to be postponed to December 10. Now Monday’s incident --- although not officially confirmed by the university --- has led to another postponement.

Chief proctor O.P. Rai met the student protesters on Monday and said Khan’s appointment would soon be discussed at the executive council of the university.

“The next date of the semester examination in the department will be announced soon,” he told reporters.