A disturbing and worrisome incident of sexual violence against a woman has surfaced from the campus of (Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University) (IIT-BHU). As per multiple media reports, a female student of IIT-BHU was allegedly molested and stripped by three motorcycle-borne men near her hostel. As provided by the police, the three men also recorded a video of the act.
According to the complaint lodged by the victim, she was out with a friend on the IIT-BHU campus on Wednesday night when the incident took place. The duo were near the Karman Baba temple when three men came there on a motorcycle and forcibly took her to a corner and gagged her after separating her from her friend. The three accused then stripped the victim, made a video of her and clicked photos. As per her complaint, she was let go after 15 minutes. The three accused took her phone number, the complaint stated.
As per the report of the New Indian Express, on the basis of the woman’s complaint, an FIR has been registered under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code and under provisions of the IT Act at Lanka police station. The police further asserted that efforts are being made to identify the three accused.
The students of IIT-BHU staged a massive protest against the aforementioned incident by gathering near IIT-BHU’s Rajputana Hostel. The students claimed that outside elements were involved in the incident and demanded that outsiders be banned from entering the campus. The students raised slogans demanding justice and a safer campus for women.
Stand in complete solidarity with the students of IIT BHU who are demanding punishment for the culprits who sexually harassed the students. Sexual harassment can’t be tolerated at any cost. All support needs to be extended to the survivors. pic.twitter.com/LfmRPmBhO4
— Aishe (ঐশী) (@aishe_ghosh) November 2, 2023
— siddu_siddartha_roy (@kmsiddartha43) November 2, 2023
Despite ongoing calls for campus security enhancements, the director and chief proctor remain inactive. Last night, a student was assaulted on our campus. We, the students of IIT BHU, demand immediate action and increased security. #SafetyFirst #IITBHU pic.twitter.com/RdgPhldV8I
— Prashant Rao (@raoprashant61) November 2, 2023
A video by the Quint showed the students protesting and raising demands for action by the Director of BHU.
Massive protests broke out at the Indian Institute Of Technology (BHU) in Uttar Pradesh’s #Varanasi on 2 November after a student alleged that she was molested on campus by three unidentified men. pic.twitter.com/bmeMFZcO01
— The Quint (@TheQuint) November 2, 2023
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also took to ‘X’ (formerly known as Twitter) to condemn the incident. She said “Are BHU campuses and even top institutions like IITs not safe now? Is it no longer possible for a girl student in the Prime Minister’s constituency to walk fearlessly inside her own educational institution?”
Her post can be accessed here:
बनारस में IIT, BHU की एक छात्रा पर यौन आक्रमण हुआ है। कुछ देर पहले, विश्वविद्यालय-परिसर में, उस छात्रा के साथ ज़ोर-ज़बर्दस्ती और दिल दहला देने वाली हिंसा की गयी है। निर्लज्ज हमलावरों ने घटना का वीडियो भी बना लिया है। घटना के विरुद्ध आईआईटी के छात्र प्रदर्शन कर रहे हैं।
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) November 2, 2023
Not the first incident of sexual violence against women at IIT-BHU
In July 2023, two men were booked by the Varanasi police after a female student of BHU had alleged that she was sexually harassed and thrashed by a group of male students inside the BHU cyber library. As per her complaint, the group had also assaulted her on the route to the central library on the campus. As per the report of Times of India, in her complaint, the 28-year-student alleged that she was busy studying at the cyber library on Saturday afternoon when accused Saurabh Rai and his accomplices reached there and started misbehaving with her. Following this, she was forced to leave the library. As she left, Rai and his accomplices had chased her and subjected her to abuse. Notably, based on the complaint, the Lanka police had immediately lodged a FIR against the accused under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (outraging modesty of woman) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
Prior to this, a similar sexual harassment incident had also taken place at the IIT-BHU campus in 2017 also which had resulted in massive protests. In the said incident, Notably, the Varanasi police had filed charges of arson and other crimes against 1,200 protesting BHU students. In September 2017, a BHU student of the Arts Faculty was allegedly harassed by three motorcycle-borne men inside the campus when she was returning to the Triveni Hostel. The student alleged that instead of raising the matter with university authorities, the hostel warden questioned her why she was returning so late. Hundreds of students sat on protest in the campus after this string of events in protest against lack of safety and alleged victim shaming. In reaction to the incident, the Vice Chancellor G C Tripathi had said “Boys will be boys. Forget about what happened. Why don’t you stop stepping out after 6 pm if you dislike such things? You are a girl, don’t try to become a boy (by stepping out after sunset).” Notably, the Varanasi police had filed charges of arson and other crimes against 1,200 protesting BHU students.