Rejecting claims of police resorting to baton-charge on female students, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) vice chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi said on Monday that force was only used to drive away anti-social elements who were setting university properties on fire and were hurling stones and throwing petrol bombs.
Meanwhile, the V-C has been summoned by the Ministry of Human Resources Development to Delhi, following which he left for the national capital on Tuesday morning. While protesters claim that he has been summoned by the HRD ministry, a media report quoted a university spokesperson as saying that quarterly meeting of the executive council of BHU was rescheduled and Tripathi has gone to attend the same.
Earlier, the V-C decided to get a judicial inquiry conducted into what had occurred on the university campus on September 21-23. The university administration said yesterday that a retired justice of Allahabad High Court, V K Dixit will conduct the inquiry.
The inquiry will probe the alleged incident of girl’s molestation on September 21, the dharna in protest on September 22 and the alleged police violence on September 23.
The BHU chief proctor’s internal four-page report has also suggested that the assault on a girl that sparked the protests was an instance of “eve-teasing”, something that was also corroborated by the V-C.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Tripathi has also claimed that the incident of sexual harassment was “created by outsiders” with “vested interests” who had an eye on the Prime Minister’s visit to Varanasi.
Meanwhile, three additional city magistrates of Varanasi and two police officials were removed yesterday in connection with the lathicharge on students.
Varanasi divisional commissioner, Nitin Gokarn sent an interim report to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary on Tuesday. In the report, Gokarn blamed the university administration for the violence.
"The BHU did not deal with the victim's complaint properly. It is a sensitive matter. The situation was not handled on time by the university administration,"he said in the report.
As opposition parties targeted the BJP over the police action on the campus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah spoke to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and asked him to address the issue at the earliest.
The police said that an FIR has been lodged against unidentified policemen, and a case has been registered against over 1,000 students for allegedly attacking a police team and indulging in violence.
A press release from Varanasi's District Information office said three additional city magistrates, Manoj Kumar Singh, Sushil Kumar Gaund and Jagdamma Prasad Singh have been removed.
Circle Officer of Bhelupur, Nivesh Katiyar, has also been removed and has been replaced by Circle Officer of Kotwali AyodhyaPrasad Singh, police officials said.
Station Officer of Lanka Police Station Rajiv Singh has been removed and sent to police lines. Station officer of Jaitpura Police Station Sanjiv Mishra has been posted in his place, the officials said.
The police action took place on Saturday night after students, agitating against an alleged eve-teasing incident, wanted to meet the Vice Chancellor at his residence.
"A committee has been constituted under the chief secretary. Necessary action will be taken on the basis of its report. The committee will see as to how the police had behaved and examine other aspects," Governor Ram Naik said in Lucknow today while responding to queries from mediapersons about the incident.
The governor described the incident as sad.
The chief minister had yesterday asked the divisional commissioner to submit details about the incident.
The police action against the students on the university campus has been criticised by various parties, including the Congress and the Samwajwadi Party.
Samajwadi Party workers held a sit-in in Varanasi and slogans were raised against the prime minister.
Over 200 Samajwadi Party activists were detained while they were going to meet the injured students as well as protestesting students
Samajwadi Party's state spokesperson Manoj Rai Dhoopchandi said a special committee comprising senior party leaders was heading to BHU to meet the injured students and also enquire about the incident from protesting students when the police detained them.
"Unfortunately, the police stopped us from going to BHU, so we sat on dharna at the Singhdwar (in front of BHU main gate)," he said.
Social activist Teesta Setalvad also arrived in the city to attend a programme but was detained by the police.
In the aftermath of the violence, the district administration has declared holidays from today till October 2 in all colleges and universities in Varanasi. The BHU had earlier announced that the holidays would start from September 28.
The alleged eve-teasing incident had occurred on last Thursday night after which the students started a protest near the university's main gate.
A woman student of the Arts Faculty was allegedly harassed by three motorcycle-borne men inside the campus while she was returning to her hostel.
According to the complainant, the men abused her and fled when she resisted their attempts.
The woman alleged that security guards, about 100 metres from where the incident happened, did nothing to stop them.
She said her warden, instead of taking up the issue with her superiors, asked her why was she was returning late to the hostel.
The warden's response angered the students who sat on a 'dharna' at the main gate midnight Thursday.
BHU students have alleged they have to face eve-teasers on the campus regularly and the varsity administration was not taking any action to stop the miscreants.
(With agency inputs)