Published: 30th September 2019
BHU students on hunger strike won't budge till demands met, burn VC's effigy in protest
Student organisations, unions, intellectuals and the civil society have been pouring in their support from all over the country for the protesting students
It's been a week since five students of the Bhagat Singh Chhatra Morcha (BCM), a student organisation at the Banaras Hindu University, began protesting for better loos, library timings and a proper harassment redressal system. And the students have not got a satisfactory reaction from the administration yet. The BHU Registrar wrote to the students on September 28 that a committee headed by the Proctor will take their demands into consideration. But the students say that's not enough. They want a written statement that their demands will be met not a promise of a review.
The students said that they will continue to protest as long as their demands are not met. "We have rejected the letter the Registrar sent. We will continue our protest till our demands are actually met. We do not trust the administration. They have a tendency of not fulfilling their promises," said Aakansha, one of the protesting students. The students, who burnt an effigy of the VC to mark their protest, were invited by the Registrar to meet the VC. "The VC is in Delhi now. Once he is back here we are willing to meet him," she added.
Student organisations, unions, intellectuals, women's organisations and members of the civil society have been pouring in their support from all over the country, said Vishwanath, Vice-President of BCM and a third-year student of Sociology at the university. "Students from Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Tuljapur, DSU and SFI units from JNU, Haryana Ekta Manch, students of SFC from IIT BHU, Public Rights Students Council, AISA State Committee, Appva and Direka Bachao Sangharsh Samiti," said Vishwanath. "On the dharna site, alumni of Kashi Vidyapeeth, Union President Samasher Singh and Sanjeev Singh from Lok Manch have joined and supported us and reinforced our belief in the cause when they said that all our demands should be met by the administration immediately. Dr Aseem Mukherjee and Dr Prashant Shukla of IIT BHU endorsed our struggle and said our fight is to save education," he added.
The students had submitted a memorandum to the BHU administration asking for basic amenities like bathrooms and library access and the implementation of Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) on campus among a dozen demands. "They sent a medical team a few times. But no one came and spoke to us about our demands," said Vishwanath. "In protest, the autocratic attitude of the administration, the striking students have decided to boycott the administration's medical team. The BHU administration is so insensitive and dictatorial that they have no concern about the health of their students," added Vishwanath, who is also one of the protesters on hunger strike along with Aakansha, Ranjan, Asutosh and Sashikath.
Asutosh had fallen sick on Friday and was admitted to the Sir Sunderlal Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with the Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU. He is better now but is not continuing the hunger strike anymore. "Our health is deteriorating but the administration does not seem to bother much," Aakansha added. The letter from the Registrar had requested the students to withdraw their protest and also added that the administration is worried about about their health condition.