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BHU is no stranger to sexual crimes; incidents of rape, molestation have defamed university in the past

On 21 September, two motorcycle-borne men groped a fine arts student near Bharat Kala Bhawan in Banaras Hindu University. Despite the presence of security guards on campus, the culprits instantly got away with the crime.

The major concern here was evidently that of the on-campus security. But incidents of sexual assault are so rampant that Vice-Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi almost considered as routine and could not come up with a convincing reply to the media. He viewed it as an act of "simple eve teasing".

The BHU management has probably become immune to acts of sexual crimes since it has been harbouring sexual offenders for a while now. At least that's what can be assumed, looking at the history of reported sexual violence cases linked to the university.

Sexual assault convict as BHU hospital head

A sense of disbelief prevailed this week on the campus when the university's executive council zeroed in on OP Upadhyay for the appointment as the medical superintendent of Sir Sunderlal Hospital.

Upadhyay was convicted in a sexual harassment case by a magistrate’s court in Fiji. According to The Indian Express, a 21-year-old Fiji woman accused Upadhyay of kissing her and "telling her to sleep in his room" in August 2012, when he served as Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor of Fiji National University.

Protests at Banaras Hindu University on Saturday. PTI

Protests at Banaras Hindu University on Saturday. PTI

In 2013, a magistrate’s court in Fiji's Nasinu found him guilty of sexually harassing the woman. He has been the acting medical superintendent of the hospital in BHU since April 2016.

Research scholar raped

A BHU research scholar was allegedly raped repeatedly by her senior Vijay Kumar Ram, who had held her hostage in his room in Chhittupur locality in January 2016. The Lanka police arrested the accused later.

The victim alleged that the accused took her to his rented room, reported The Times of India, under the pretext of guiding her for her thesis. After being warned against leaving the room and raped repeatedly, the victim managed to escape the next day and file an FIR at the Lanka police station.

Male student gang-raped

On 13 August 2016, a student of Hindi department was raped, a few metres from the vice-chancellor's residence.

In August 2016, the 19-year-old student was reportedly gangraped in the BHU campus. The first year MA Hindi student was allegedly stopped by five men on his visit to the microbiology department at the hospital to collect some medical reports.

The five men forced the man to drink liquor and raped him in a moving car, which carried a department logo of the university. According to Deccan Chronicle, the car drove on the campus for the longest time but was not stopped by the security staff.

The university administration, instead, refused prompt action and blamed the police for delaying the investigation. The rape survivor claimed that the university was trying hard to ensure the case made no progress.

Even though the student identified one of the accused as an employee in the Institute of Medical Sciences on the campus, an arrest was only made after 18 days of the incident.

Students allege sexual harassment by faculty

In June, eleven students of the BHU's Mahila Maha Vidyalaya wrote to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports alleging sexual harassment by the National Service Scheme programme officer Rajeev Mishra. The students alleged that Mishra promised them rewards in return for "submitting (themselves) to him".

The ministry then suspended the accused’s one-year service extension and directed the university to probe the matter.

According to national crime data, Uttar Pradesh reported a 33 percent rise in sexual harassment cases in 2015, up from 2014. These cases now comprise three-fourths of all assaults recorded against women in Uttar Pradesh.

Even though violence has become the new normal ever since protests erupted in the BHU campus, the management's attitude is especially worrying since it involves a leading university.

Many authorities, like Tripathi, choose to remain in denial. But these cases should raise concern. By imposing strict curfew timings or indulging in victim-shaming, they can only sweep a crime under the rug, not make it disappear.


Updated Date: Sep 28, 2017 16:26 PM

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