New Delhi: Days after clashes broke out at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) over the police thrashing of women students protesting outside the campus, the human resource development ministry on Wednesday moved forward with the process of finding a successor for the university’s vice chancellor, Girish Chandra Tripathi.
Tripathi – who has about two months left in his term – has faced criticism for the alleged mishandling of protests by women students against the inaction and victim blaming in the alleged molestation of a fellow student. Tripathi drew further flak when on Monday, while dismissing claims of police resorting to lathi charge, he said that the use of force was against criminals and not girl students.
In further controversy, Tripathi even supported the appointment of hospital head O.P. Upadhyay, who has previously been convicted of sexual harassment.
According to Indian Express, senior functionaries in the government are of the view that in light of the controversy surrounding Tripathi, the appropriate course of action would be for him to take a leave. The HRD ministry has put out a file to constitute the search and election committee to find his successor, thus ruling out an extension. Tripathi’s three-year term ends on November 27.
“The question is whether he agrees to go on leave before that or not. This is a call for him to take,” a top government functionary in Delhi told Indian Express.
Tripathi had earlier also claimed that the incident of sexual harassment at the varsity was “created by outsiders” with “vested interests” who had an eye on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Varanasi.
The BHU Act holds that the incumbent vice chancellor shall continue unless a new one is appointed in his place. According to source, the HRD ministry is looking to find a successor before Tripathi’s term ends.
“A file with six names will be sent to Rashtrapati Bhavan in the next few days, from which the president will appoint three nominees to the search and selection committee. The VC’s post will also be advertised soon,” a ministry source told Indian Express.
A similar course of action was witnessed in the case of Hyderabad Central University during the protests over the suicide of Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula. P. Appa Rao, the university head, had been informally told by the government to go on leave at the time. He had resumed charge once the protests died down and the situation on campus had returned to normal.