Varanasi, Sep 27: The prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, shares a love-hate relationship with its female students. The 100-year-old varsity has often hit the headline as its female students have raised their voices against sexual harassment and gender discrimination, to name a few issues.
However, on Saturday evening when the female students of the BHU decided to hit the streets to protest over an eve-teasing incident that occurred inside the campus, the authorities of the varsity called the police to control the angry students and in the process the girls were beaten up by police personnel.
As video clippings of male police beating girl students of the BHU went viral on social media, the repercussions of it were felt directly at Delhi since Varanasi, where the sordid incident took place, is the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Now, more than the issue of the girl students facing harassment in an educational institution, the entire controversy in the BHU has turned "political". While the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has asked the PM to apologise to the girl students as the incident happened in his parliamentary constituency, the Yogi Adityanath government claimed that the violence in the BHU has been instigated by the opposition political parties.
As the BHU is currently embroiled in a political turmoil, girl students, especially those who are hostel boarders, have left the varsity campus for their native places in the wake of festival holidays, hope that their family members allow them to return to their alma mater.
A lot of female students in the BHU are from various parts of the country, including the Northeast region and the southern states. Earlier, students mostly from the Northern states of the country used to study in the BHU.
Over the years, the historic university has started attracting girl students from several small towns and villages of India to help them realise their dreams of making it "big" in the world stage.
In fact, the varsity has witnessed a surge in admission of women students in various departments in the last 10 years.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the university records show that in the last 10 years, the campus has seen a 131 per cent increase in women admission, much more than the 78 per cent rise in men's admission.
In 2007-2008, BHU admitted 7,754 women and 13,282 men across courses and in its four affiliated institutions. Last year, 17,950 women and 23,665 men were enrolled.
The reason behind such a huge rise in the admission of female students in the varsity lies in the aspirations of women staying in the hinterlands of the country. Many of the young women in the BHU are the first ones from their families to study in a university.
Such a progressive step in the history of the varsity got a big blow when violence and protest rocked the campus on Saturday as the police decided to brutally beat girl students.
"With time, female-only courses and colleges were started along with good hostel accommodation. Students not just from nearby states but also states in the North-East and South began opting for BHU. Most students are those whose parents feel that BHU is a safe haven for their daughters and they are distrustful of political disturbances in JNU and DU," the registrar of the BHU told The Indian Express.
"But this fiasco has changed everything. It will certainly impact admissions next year, especially applications from women. Parents will be very scared," the registrar added.