IIT BHU student rape: 3 accused arrested; police assured speedy action, informs student body

A female BTech student was allegedly gang-raped and the incident was recorded by the three motorcycle-borne men on November 1, who are also the accused. Seeking justice protests broke out 
Representative Image
Representative Image

Two months after the unfortunate incident of the alleged gang rape of a BTech student of the Indian Institute of Technology Banaras Hindu University (IIT BHU), the Uttar Pradesh Police have arrested three accused who are now in judicial custody for 14 days. To recall, on November 1, a female student of IIT BHU was allegedly gang-raped, and stripped plus the whole ordeal was recorded by three motorcycle-borne men, who are also the accused, near her hostel. This shocking incident resulted in hundreds of BHU students coming out to support the victims urging for justice, increased security on campus and the restriction of outsiders' entry into the campus. 

"Even though it was delayed, every student is happy that the three accused have been arrested," shared a representative of the institute's Student Parliament. On condition of anonymity, the student told EdexLive, "The accused were arrested in the early hours of December 31, between 3 am to 4 am. We were aware of the development by 9 am and we called the ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police)."  

Further, the student representative said that more than three members of the Student Parliament had a meeting with the ACP around 11 am on the same day. "ACP Dr Atul Anand Tripathi assured that the case would be fast-forwarded. The police disclosed that the phones of all accused have been confiscated," the student who was also present at the meeting said. 

Speaking about the punishment, the police said a minimum of over 15 years of imprisonment or a maximum of life imprisonment would be given to the accused as the charges of rape and recording the incident are serious. 

Based on the victim's complaint, an FIR was registered under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code and under provisions of the Information Technology Act at Lanka police station. Subsequently, the charge of gang rape was added to the FIR, police said. The accused are identified as Kunal Pandey, Anand alias Abhishek Chauhan, and Saksham Patel who have been arrested in the case, said Station House Officer of Lanka police station, Shivakant Mishra, as stated in a report by PTI.  

New political angle

As soon as the news of the arrest started spreading, the opposition political parties took a dig at the government alleging the accused are members of the ruling BJP. Similarly, the All Indian Students' Association (AISA) UP unit issued a statement alleging the same. 

As per the allegations, Kunal Pandey is the Convener of the BJP Mahanagar IT cell, and Saksham Patel is the PA of Dilip Patel (Kashi zone President of the BJP). 

To recall, during the protests, female students were allegedly attacked by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in an attempt to stop the protest. Additionally, fake cases were booked against the students protesting for justice and demanding the formation of the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH). The student unions which were at the forefront of the protests were the All India Students' Association (AISA), All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA).  

"The arrest of the three criminals has once again exposed ABVP. For two months after the incident, the criminals continued to roam around freely, meeting leaders and ministers and continuing with the work of their organisation. Were their leaders, fellow workers and police unaware of this? Where did they get this confidence from? This is a big question," AISA said in a statement issued on December 31. 

As per PTI, in a statement, ABVP State Media Coordinator Abhinav Mishra demanded that police file a charge sheet in the case at the earliest and also take action against those who protected the accused for two months. Additionally, it called on the BHU administration to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of everyone on the campus.

New curfew timings and restrictions 

Further, AISA in its statement condemned the administration for imposing curfew timings in hostels and deploying heavy police. Demanding GSCASH formation and abolition of gender discriminatory rules, AISA stressed, "Everyone needs security but not at the cost of freedom."

"It is the responsibility of the administration to create a safe campus in which they have repeatedly failed. To avoid accountability, the administration has been trying to take action against those who raise questions and confine the girl students to hostels, which is shameful," AISA's statement read. 

However, the student representative said that after the incident, the administration has strengthened security at entry points to restrict the entry of outsiders. "Barricades have been set up on the roads of the campus and only students with BHU identity cards are being allowed," the student said, adding that the Student Parliament is working on a plan for a more centralised security system. 

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