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BHU chief proctor ON Singh resigns as protests continue to rage in university, takes 'moral responsibility' for crisis

Taking moral responsibility for the Banaras Hindu University crisis, chief proctor ON Singh submitted his resignation to vice-chancellor GC Tripathi on Tuesday night, 101reporters told Firstpost.

Singh's resignation has been accepted by Tripathi, according to the report.

The atmosphere on the campus of the iconic BHU in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi continues to remain tense even as Tripathi is convinced of an "outsider" angle to the whole controversy.

Despite his explanations, the vice-chancellor, who is in the Opposition's line of fire and has made some controversial comments, allegedly trivialising the molestation incident, is in the eye of the storm.

Tripathi, who was summoned by the human resource development ministry in New Delhi on Tuesday morning, told reporters that protests against an incident of sexual harassment on the varsity campus escalated only due to rumour mongering and involvement of outsiders.

The vice-chancellor, in an interview to CNN-News18 also remained defiant that the police never baton charged girl students at the university. Referring to a fake image, unrelated to the incident but which was in circulation, Tripathi said that no girl was ever beaten up at the campus. Other videos, images and the alternative narrative emerging from the campus, however, suggest otherwise. Tripathi assured that he is in touch with the proctor and the students and due process will be followed to punish the perpetrators. A magisterial probe has already been ordered.

 BHU chief proctor ON Singh resigns as protests continue to rage in university, takes moral responsibility for crisis

Heavy deployment of police personnel at Banaras Hindu University where students were holding a protest in Varanasi, late Saturday night. PTI

Not a stranger to controversy

Speaking on the violent protests that have rocked the campus, Tripathi told The Indian Expressthat if the complaints and demands of every girl were to be listened to, he will not be able to run the university. He later denied making the statement in an interview to CNN-News18.

The vice-chancellor also justified strict curfew timings in girls' hostel and alleged gender biases by saying that the security of girls and boys can never be at par. The statement spurred widespread outrage over Tripathi's alleged trivialisation of an important issue. However, this wasn't the first time that the BHU vice-chancellor was in the eye of a controversy.

Before this, girls have alleged absurd and discriminatory restrictions in the five girls hostels in the university, paralleling the life at BHU campus to that of the militancy-hit state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to a Hindustan Times report.

Reports also suggest that the girls hostel wouldn't serve meat at the students' mess because it apparently violated "tradition". Students of the university have also accused the administration under Tripathi of turning the educational institution into an RSS shakha (branch). Students have alleged that girls aren't allowed to use mobile phones after 10 pm and are not expected to step out of hostel gates after 8 pm.

He was also accused of culling out any voices of dissent in the university, in an attempt to paint BHU saffron. According to a report in The Wire, he expelled a well-known educationist, social activist and Magsaysay awardee, Sandeep Pandey, for not toeing the Sangh Parivar’s line.

Besides this, there were some controversies on several appointments made by Tripathi. He appointed Satyapal Yadav and Ashok Kumar Sonkar to the Department of History at the university, however, both these academics have been accused of plagiarism in the past.

BHU V-C an RSS ideologue?

Tripathi's known links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have been an open secret. A short profile of him on Business Line states that Tripathi, in a five-minute address in 2015 espoused the RSS and VHP intellectuals, saying, "The planet is a family. Our way of life is prescribed by sarve bhavantu sukhinah and vasudhaiva kutumbakam." Another CNN-News18 report claims that he has been an associated with the saffron organisation for the past four decades.

He himself has known to be quite candid about his RSS links. According to The Wire, when objections were raised to his use of the university as a unit for the RSS, Tripathi said, "When the Indian government itself is of the RSS, there is nothing wrong in establishing an RSS’ shakha in BHU."

"Tripathi believes in a dictatorial mode of functioning and takes immense pride in his 40 years of candid association with the RSS," the article in The Wirereads. On the question of open debates, dissent, and exploring the Opposition's view at the university, Tripathi is proud to have prevented BHU from going the JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) way.

In an interview to The Hinduhe says that he would never allow BHU to conduct events on "controversial and sensitive" issues and that it was his administrative alertness that prevented the institution from going the JNU way.

Appointment too was mired in controversy 

Tripathy was appointed the vice-chancellor of BHU on 27 November 2014 amid a host of controversies. His appointment kicked off a conflict of interest controversy, as the search-cum-selection committee that appointed him was headed by Justice (retired) Giridhar Malviya, grandson of Madan Mohan Malviya, who was a long-time and close associate of Tripathi. According to The Times of India report from the time, Tripathi and Malviya allegedly hid the fact from the government when it appointed the panel and Tripathi's name was shortlisted.

On its part, the HRD ministry ignored the complaint when it was brought to its notice. A ministry source said, "We do not interfere in the working of search-cum-selection committees," the report further said.

The Business Line report also said that HRD ministry also appointed Tripathi as chairperson of renowned IIT-BHU ignoring the list of candidates put forward by the institute. "A Google scholar search reveals no publications, citations or papers to his name," the report said.

Besides this, attempts to trace his past credentials only reveal that he was a professor of economics at Allahabad University, before the current appointment. Tripathi was also the secretary of Seva Samiti, a registered society in Allahabad. However, apart from this, no trace of any administrative experience, which is mentioned as a key credential mentioned in a 2014 notification inviting applications for the post of BHU vice-chancellor, is available, at least online.

Another report in The Wire states that the Department of Economics at the Allahabad University fails to provide information under the RTI act regarding the research activities of Tripathi, while he served as a professor there. Outstanding academic record and research credentials too are one of the first things that grab one's attention on the notification inviting application for the BHU vice-chancellor's post.

His tenure is due to end in two month's time on 26 November this year, according to the Department of Higher Education website but no formal notification for the appointment of a new vice-chancellor has come out so far. The notification for the appointment of vice-chancellor in 2014 was released on 30 September in 2014, after which Tripathi was picked for the job.

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Updated Date: Sep 27, 2017 09:24:59 IST