Gender

At BHU, Women are Being Restricted by RSS’s Chains

The Sangh’s stranglehold over the university has subsumed democratic representation and heightened gender discrimination on campus.

Persident Pranab Mukherjee (left) and Vice Chancellor G.C. Tripathi (centre) during BHU's centenary celebrations. Credit: Banaras Hindu University/Facebook

Persident Pranab Mukherjee (left) and Vice Chancellor G.C. Tripathi (centre) during BHU’s centenary celebrations. Credit: Banaras Hindu University/Facebook

In the last two years we have seen massive student unrest across universities in the country because of a systematic attack on the autonomy of educational institutions and the freedom of students. One university that has been brewing with reactionary tendencies, but is yet to witness outrage along the lines of FTII, Hyderabad Central University, JNU or NIT Srinagar is Banaras Hindu University (BHU). BHU is a renowned university that houses around 40,000 students making it one of Asia’s largest residential campuses.

The university has been trying to subvert the idea of democracy for the last couple of years. It has escalated with the appointment of Girish Chandra Tripathi as the vice chancellor, after Narendra Modi’s government came to power. Students, teachers, workers are not represented democratically. Tripathi believes in a dictatorial mode of functioning and takes immense pride in his 40 years of candid association with the RSS. He has been accused of openly espousing RSS ideology and has expelled renowned social activist and Ramon Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey for not toeing the Sangh parivar’s line. Similarly, 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.

When such a man is at the helm of affairs, expecting women to be treated as equals would be asking for too much. The RSS is notorious for its diktats on women. Unsurprisingly, the BHU administration has imposed various restrictions specifically on girl students. For instance, the administration has banned the usage of mobile phones by girls after 10 pm. The vice chancellor has said that “girls who study in the night are immoral,” as a consequence of which, girls have been disallowed from using the 24×7 library at night. Despite the bus facility being a service provided to all students, as per the prospectus of the university, women are not allowed to avail it. Women students were also made to sign an affidavit pledging that they won’t indulge in any protest or agitation, which directly stripped them of the fundamental right to raise their voices against injustice. Furthermore, they are not allowed to participate in any socio-cultural activities outside the campus.

Disparities between men and women exist in the hostel norms too – while men can consume meat, women are banned from doing so. The vice chancellor believes that “consumption of non-vegetarian food makes women impure according to the Malviya values”. In the name of safety, women have a curfew of 8 pm, while men have none. Women wearing short dresses and skirts are admonished by the administration. It is rather unfortunate that learned women in such a prestigious university are unable to even assemble together and talk about their plight, because the administration has taken away that constitutional right.

Tripathi keeps harping on about how “boys and girls hanging out together is against Indian values”. The university came out with a notification earlier this year saying that anyone found celebrating Valentine’s Day would be attributed “category-A punishment” – a euphemism for suspension.

Not so long ago, when students demanded a cyber library, the administration suspended their agitation by saying that “such a library will be used by the students to watch pornography. There is no need for a cyber library because students need not study anything outside the syllabus”.

It cannot get more absurd than this, but we can always trust the RSS’s proclivity for the absurd.

There is no doubt that BHU is the model university that the RSS wants every other institution of the country to turn into. It is exemplar of a space where only those belonging to upper castes form the majority of the administrative body, where the positions meant for representing people from the reserved categories remains unfilled and people belonging to an accepted ideology are being appointed. There is no space for students to question or exercise their right to dissent and women are subjugated and voiceless.

In an attempt to dissolve the RSS’s agenda in the university, some concerned students of BHU have joined hands and formed a joint action committee with the intention to create awareness about the rights and remedies available to the students at a local level. The committee will also disseminate information about the wrongs happening within the walls of BHU to the outside world. The students are fighting the RSS and all the institutional backing it has, singlehandedly, and require all possible support to sustain their movement.

Angellica Aribam was the first student from the Northeast to be elected in the executive committee of the Delhi University Students’ Union and is currently the national general secretary of NSUI. 

  • Dhawal Shankar Srivastava

    As a former student of BHU i hold the correct subject position and appropriate locus to disagree with the fiction which the writer has written. One may agree that the university has a leaning towards right wing but that is not tantamount to muzzling of democratic voices, this article falsely alludes that the university is a veritable taliban for woman but in fact i witnessed woman taking part in just agitations , the thing such as woman are not allowed to make calls after 10 pm is also baseless .

  • Anup Kumar Tripathi

    why there are no widespread protests and why the students have not filed cases against high handed approach of the administration ,cant they approach president of India who is also the chancellor of the university

    • Angellica Aribam

      Hi,
      Please check out the Twitter (@JacBHU) and Facebook page of JAC to learn more about the students’ efforts and how they are being silenced.

  • Arushi Mittal

    Hi Angellica .. Thanks for writing this. Request you to share your sources for the instances and restrictions cited. I work on gender issues myself and would like to explore this further. Look forward to your response.

  • K SHESHU BABU

    When the whole educational institutions are facing ‘ hindu-isation’ , the case of Banaras ‘Hindu’ university is not surprising. It’s administration has an upper-caste majority including VC and students of upper-caste can have patronage of the authority to implement manu order in toto. Make hegemony and chauvinism can be implemented uninterruptedly.

  • Pawan Jaiswal

    I were also the part of BHU from 2013-15 and leaving in one of its hostel in the campus. Never seen any so called RSS ideology in the campus. You mentioned about restrictions imposed to the students. These rules and regulations were made before Mr. Tripathi’s era. Yes it is true that last year he decided to not open the cyber library entire day & night. I can see your article is based on your emotions and politically motivated as you are associated with NSUI. So don’t blame on BHU for your political gain

  • babau ram vishvakarma

    Ever since the the Modi came to power the influence of BJP /RSS /ABVP /and like minded groups have been busy to destablize the institutes/universities such as FTII, Hyderabad Central University, JNU or NIT Srinagar ,Banaras Hindu University (BHU).campuses. The govt. has deliberately imposed RSS biased administrators with a view to vitiate the atmosphere in the premises. Such institutes / universities are open to their frequent activities which may be of religius,political in nature.

  • pgb

    Very sad!

  • Dr.R.K.D.Goel

    I
    used ti visit the BHU in 1955 to 1957 when my friend was doing his PG
    study in Pali. He was a staunch follower of RSS from Muzafar Nagar. I
    being the RSS worker also attended the RSS Sakhas of BHU . That time no
    Computer and not much girls students in BHU.
    I attended
    several meetings of Guruji. He always addressed Girls / woman / ladies
    as Sisters and Mothers. Guruji never allowed females to touch his feet.

    But
    now see photos on my face book, how the girls washed the feet of Dr.
    Mohan Bahgwat in public. Is this not changed the culture of RSS of out
    time 60 years back?
    ==========No female students were the member of RSS in our time. In 1965 VHP founded, the girls become VHP members only.
    We
    are residing in the modern era of Globilisations when equally girls and
    boys with Sanatan Dharma Hindu ideology are going to USA / UK for
    further studies.
    How so much restrictions on girls students of BHU are justified?
    Culture start from family traditions. Not by too much restrictions on girls in BHU.

    No
    doubt that the Center Government of BJP / NDA under Mr. Narendra Modiji
    is of RSS ideology. But in MSU there are not so much control on girls
    students in any where in Gujarat. During Navratri Garbha’s. Both girls
    and boys plays Garbha to gather. ======Will Mr, Narendra Modiji not
    allowed the girls and boys to play Garbha together in Navratri festivals
    of Gujarat?
    Like
    CommentShare
    Comments
    Drrkd Goel
    Write
    a comment…See below photo.================== How the Dr. Mohan
    Bhagwat getting his feet washed by girls publicly. In my family so many
    saints used to visit. But they also not allowed to touch their feet by
    girls, except married woman. Where our RSS culture is going now?
    =========== In Gujarat girls have full liberty to come home in the mid
    night alone. ==== These Pseudo RSS followers are spoiling the name of
    Mr. Narendra Modiji. Now they are saying that the Center Government is
    of RSS also. Mr. Narendra Modiji is of BJP / NDA Prime Minister and not
    of RSS Government. May be he was a Child hood RSS worker of Gujarat? But
    RSS has not to interfere in BJP Government. =====So please don’t spoil
    the Name of Mr. Narendra Modiji, who is a Prime Minister of Secular
    Government.
    Like · Reply · Just now

  • Angellica Aribam
    • Angellica Aribam

      See point 16 of this reply to an RTI which says “no to talking over the mobile phone late in the night”, here late means 10pm. Phones get confiscated if girls are found talking after 10pm. To know more, watch this video wherein girls themselves are talking about it. https://youtu.be/itLVnDdCFi4

  • Angellica Aribam

    Hi,
    There are videos and pictures of BHU students speaking up about all these restrictions and impositions on the social media pages of Joint Action Committee, BHU.
    (Twitter – @JacBHU)
    Regarding the non-vegetarian food, it all started from here :-
    VC’s ‘no’ to non-veg in BHU – The Times of India – http://toi.in/DGGPOb/a18ag
    Also, please go through this circular https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7a06eae815a4d16c6923fa79db510d9227f561721ccf790b458ada898b7b79c4.jpg

  • Angellica Aribam

    Ma’am,
    Though I am not a student of BHU, I have spoken to students there. I’m sorry if things have changed since your days there. Let me share the statement issued by a group of current students of BHU who have launched the Joint Action Committee to save BHU. You can contact them on Facebook and Twitter. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9ee12e032dd82fa365a4abdef97f90b5dd1430b51a9ad8aed470e12479dcaa90.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9c1487d180c0bdc04355f8ffae807e8cfb88a23f04d7f6bcb3e9057adcc4b6bc.jpg

  • Anurakti

    Are you sure it is only the women students who are barred from taking part in protests?? or not participate in debates?
    I have been asking for a proof since three days, no one has provided me with one! Please share a proof if you have!

    Having said that, rest of the restrictions like no wifi and mobile confiscation are harsh!