Banaras Hindu University students oppose appointment of Muslim professor
Controversy erupted in Banaras Hindu University when few students opposed the appointment of an assistant professor as Sanskrit Faculty allegedly because he belonged to Muslim faith. On facing pressure to clarify the issue, BHU released an an official statement on Thursday stating it had "unanimously" appointed the "most qualified candidates" through a "transparent" screening process headed by the Vice-Chancellor.
The university officials also said that the institution was founded with the objective of providing "equal opportunity to all to study and teach" for the purpose of nation-building "by rising above discrimination" on the basis of religion, caste, sect and gender.
The appointment of Firoz Khan as an assistant professor in the Sahitya (literature) department of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan of the Central university was met with opposition by a section of students. Numerous students staged a sit-in protest at Holkar Bhawan near the residence of the Vice-Chancellor on Thursday. Their demands were that Mr. Khan's appointment should be cancelled.
One of the protesting students said the agitation was being done to protect the "values" of Madan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of BHU and not to oppose the Muslim faculty. Claims were made that a stone-slab in the Sanskrit faculty mentioned that non-Hindus, except for Jain, Buddhist and Arya Samaj followers, were barred from the department.
Shubham Tiwary, a Ph.D scholar leading the protest, said Mr. Khan was "an unfit person" was appointed to the Sanskrit Faculty. Mr. Tiwari said, "When a person gets appointed, he will teach till the age of 65. In those years, so many students will come to learn. The future of so many will be ruined."
Ram Narayan Dwivedi, an associate professor of the department, dismissed the students' charge that the selection process was not followed with due diligence in appointing the Muslim faculty. He opined that all the selection procedures were followed in the appointment of Mr. Khan.
As per the BHU website, the SVDV faculty was established "in order to materialize the chief goal of this university, which is to preserve and promote the studies of Ancient Indian Shastras, Sanskrit language and literature with the intention to bring about a fruitful dialogue between the East and the West."