It’s been over 30 hours since female students at Uttar Pradesh’s prestigious Banaras Hindu University launched a protest against the university administration’s alleged victim-shaming after one of them reported an incident of molestation on Thursday.
The protest has coincided with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Varanasi – his Lok Sabha constituency. The protest is still on though the Prime Minister is back in Delhi.
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The protest was triggered by the alleged molestation of a first-year student, who lives in a university hostel, by three-bike borne men on Thursday evening. According to the protesters, the university guards did not help nor did the hostel warden or other administrative officials, who instead questioned why she was out of the hostel till 6 pm.
“That girl has undergone trauma and such an incident can happen to anyone. This campus is not safe anymore,” said Ankita Singh, a protesting student.
The students outside the main gate of the BHU are holding banners and posters asking for a safe campus. They also want the vice chancellor to come to and listen to their demands. “If you go inside the campus in the evening, you will realise that eve-teasing is a common problem inside the campus,” said Shweta Mishra, a student.
The protesting students had hoped for the attention of Prime Minister Modi who was on a two-day visit to the city that ended today. On Thursday, the Prime Minister and his entourage were supposed to pass by the main gate but their route had to be diverted by his security officers.
Sources in the university administration say the BHU campus is huge and open to the public and policing every area is not possible. However, security inside the campus would be reviewed, they said.
On record though, officials were defiant. Rajesh Kumar Singh, the public-relations officer of Banaras Hindu University said, “80 percent of the protesters are outsiders. This is a politically-motivated protest.”