Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Modi "knew" of police attack on Banaras girl students, violence was preceded by varsity's 'private security': NAPM

By Our Representative
One of India's biggest civil rights networks of India, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi very much knew of the Banaras Hindu University girl students' demonstration and the police lathicharge on them well in advance, suggesting he did nothing to stop it.
In a statement issued in Delhi in the wake of the lathicharge, which saw injury to several girls, followed by FIR against more than 1,000 of them, NAPM said, "It would be naive to assume that the Prime Minister, in whose constituency the university is situated, was neither aware of the students' protest when he was in the town, nor of the ruthless lathicharge which took place, soon after he left Banaras."
The statement, which said that Modi's "regular route was in fact changed, to avoid his interface with the protestors at BHU", comes amidst frantic attempts to what are being seen as efforts to plant stories in the media that Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were "unhappy" over the way the Adityanath Yogi government handled the demonstration.
Strongly condemning what it called "state repression", NAPM called the police crackdown "cowardly and indefensible", insisting, the girl students were merely "seeking a university space with equal rights for women and freedom from sexual harassment and violence".
"That the long-standing and quite simple demands of the students were not being addressed and in fact survivors of sexual harassment were repeatedly being shamed by the male proctors, even as the identified perpetrators were being allowed to go scot-free, compelled the students to embark on a peaceful mass protest in the wake of relentless incidents of sexual harassment on the campus", the statement said.
According to NAPM, "Instead of engaging in a dialogue with the agitating students and resolving their basic and genuine grievances, the university authorities led by the vice chancellor at the behest of the state government chose to physically brutalize the students, late into the night and again on the next day, by unlawfully unleashing a rabid male police force on women students."
Signed among others by Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan, and tens of other activists, the statement said, "We have learnt from credible sources that the vice chancellor and proctors allowed a group of ‘private security’ inside the campus, who were the first to unleash violence on students, before the police struck."
NAPM said, protests happened as girl students objected to "actions such as limiting library hours, early closure of college gates, curbs on late-evening usage of mobile phones by women students, embargo on serving of non-vegetarian food, coercing students to sign affidavits not to participate in political activity", adding, all of it "reeks of the patriarchal and regressive mindset of the BHU vice chancellor."
The statement said, "We completely endorse the demands of the young women students for effective mechanisms and systems in place to seriously and empathetically address grievances / complaints, especially that of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination and violence, in line with the Vishakha Guidelines of the Supreme Court and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013."
"These mechanisms must be formed with the active involvement of the women students, women faculty and well-known, credible and committed women civil society activists", the civil rights organisation insisted,adding, it is part of the larger design to " saffronize" universities, as seen in what had happened in the Jawaharlal Nehru University and earlier in the Hyderabad Central University.

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