BHU students take out peace march supporting Muslim Sanskrit professor who was forced out of college

Firoze Khan, a doctorate in Sanskrit and the appointed assistant professor at the Banaras Hindu University’s Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vigyan (SVDV), left for his native place in Jaipur as students of the college continued to protests against his appointment for the post because he is a Muslim.

While a significant number of students protested, a section of the university also came out in support of teh professor, who could not attend university since his appointment due to the protests. He had been hiding with his mobile phone switched off for his safety.

“Dr Firoze Khan had gone into hiding after joining at the registrar office. No one knew where he was staying as he did not come to the university. However, today his Head of Department (HoD) told me that Firoze has left for his hometown in Jaipur. There are some reports doing the rounds that he has resigned. This is not true. Firoze Khan has told the HoD that he was going to his hometown,” Vindheshwari Mishra, Dean, SVDV, said.

Khan spoke to Indian express a couple of days ago, he had said, “All my life, I learnt Sanskrit and I was never made to realise I am a Muslim, but now when I am trying to teach, suddenly it has become the only subject”.

A section of the university students held a peace march in support of Khan. Holding banners with ‘We are with you Dr Firoze Khan’ written on it, the students marched from the university’s Lanka Gate to Ravidas Gate. The peace march was a joint initiative by outfits like the NSUI, Youth for Swaraj and AISA, they held the banner of ‘Joint Action Committee’.

Before the march, the students even approached Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar to understand the BHU’s stand on the matter. Sources say that the university believes there is nothing wro9ng with appointing Khan as a Sanskrit professor.

“Through our peace march, we tried to tell that we welcome Dr Firoze Khan in this university that was established by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. There should be a solution to this issue. The students protesting against the appointment of Firoze Khan have a narrow casteist mentality. We have appealed the protesting students that they get “sadhbuddhi (good sense)” and let classes run in the faculty. A wrong message is going outside that all the students of BHU are against Firoze Khan. A handful of 10-20 students do not represent BHU and this is what we want to tell the people,” said Vikas Singh, a PhD student of Political Science and a member of NSUI.

Several BHU professors have also come out in support of Firoze Khan. Professor Mahesh Prasad Ahirwar of Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology, expressed his frustration over the issue on Facebook.

The university shall be open to person of either sex and of whatever race, creed, caste or class, and it shall not be lawful for the university to adopt or impose on any person any test whatsoever of religious belief or profession in order to entitle him to be admitted therein, as a teacher or student, or to hold any office therein,” he told The Indian Express quoting BHU Act on Wednesday.

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