The Benaras Hindu University may be the first university in India to shatter stereotypes and go against the popular Hindutva narrative. The Uttar Pradesh University has backed its decision of appointing a Muslim professor to its Sanskrit faculty after some students protested against the decision, Scroll.in reported. The administration of the college said that the university is committed to providing equal opportunities to everyone, irrespective of their religion, caste, community or gender.
Students of the BHU have been staging sit-in demonstrations over the last week against the appointment of a 29-year-old Muslim professor Feroz Khan as an assistant professor in the literature department of the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan.
Students from the university had said that the appointment of Khan was a conspiracy and it would hurt the sentiments of Madan Mohan Malviya, who had helped establish the university. They also said that a stone inscription installed in BHU clearly stated that no non-Hindu could either study or teach in the Sanksrit department.
PhD student Shubham Tiwari, who is also taking part in the protests, told The Print: “In this department, there are no teachers, all are our gurus. Everyone keeps a choti (tuft of hair on the head), we touch their feet and participate in havan (a ritual). If a Muslim professor is accorded a place in the department, then it will be open discrimination against the students. A Muslim can’t teach us our dharma.”
Not just the students, even the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh (RSS), has also opposed the appointment.
However, quashing all claims of the mentioned stone inscription, the BHU administration released a statement saying that the goal of the university was to contribute to nation-building by providing equal opportunities toward studying and teaching for all, without any discrimination.
Head of Department Umakant Chaturvedi and VC Rakesh Bhatnagar have informed the students that Khan’s appointment will not be rescinded as it has been made as per the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines. They have said that they would however seek legal or constitutional opinion to clear any doubts with respect to the BHU Act.
Those taking an extremist approach regarding Khan’s appointment, must first see this message by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya on the website of BHU.
Feroz Khan who is being outright targeted for his religion from fascist Hindutva followers, has been studying Sanskrit since Class 2 and has completed all of his education – BA, B.Ed, MA and PhD from Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Jaipur. He has done his PhD in Sanskrit literature and has been awarded the Sanskrit Yuva Pratibha Puraskar by the Rajasthan government.
As a child, Feroz remembers that his father Ramjan Khan would sing bhajans in Sanskrit just grandfather Gafur Khan would, to swaying Hindu crowds in Jaipur’s Bagru village. “We had no problems then”, said Khan.
Feroz is also a regular in the Varta vali programme telecast on Doordarshan every Saturday evening, where he sings Hindi film songs translated into Sanskrit.
The protest from the ABVP and other students is a shame and just portrays the anti-minority mindset of the Hindu radicalists and is a clear violation of the Constitution of India.
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