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Book on how RSS "hardliners" captured BHU, other campuses, expelled top academic

By Our Representative
In a controversial decision, in January 2016, the Banaras Hindu University’s Indian Institute of Technology (BHU-IIT) expelled well-known Gandhian academic, educationist and Magsaysay award winning social activist, Prof Sandeep Pandey, allegedly under “hardline” RSS pressure. Despite an Allahabad High Court order, to reinstate him he was not allowed in.
Now Pandey has written an autobiographical book, 'Why I was expelled from Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India”, running into 101 pages, accusing the “parochial” government led by the BJP and its “ideological parent” RSS, for seeking to destroy the academic environment of India’s campuses “in an effort to take them over.”
Introducing the book, whose English edition is available on Kindle, and Hindi edition is online, Pandey says, what has happened to him is continuing “campus after campus”, adding, “Scholars have been made to leave, humiliated, events of organisations believing in ideology different from the Hindtuva ideology of RSS/BJP have been cancelled on campuses at last moment if they were lucky to get initial permission, students have been suspended”.
On the other hand, even as referring to how Rohith Vemula, a Dalit scholar of Hyderabad Central University was forced to commit suicide, and how Kanhaiya Kumar, a backward class scholar of the Jawaharlal Nahru University was sought to be implicated, Pandey says, “Unqualified people belonging to RSS have been appointed to top positions, mythology has been paraded as history/science, research is sought to be controlled, etc., since the BJP government came to power in 2014.”
Sandeep Pandey
Referring to his expulsion from BHU in 2016 on charges that his teachings were anti-national, Pandey says, he was accused of being a “Naxalite sympathiser” and committing a “cyber crime by sharing the link of BBC documentary 'India's Daughters' which was banned by Government of India.”
He continues, “I went to the Allahabad High Court. In spite of getting a wonderful order which upheld my fundamental right to freedom of expression and supported the idea of respect for diversity of thought by quoting none other than the founder of the University, Madan Mohan Malviya, the Vice Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi, whose academic credentials to hold this high post were suspect, did not let me return to campus.”
According to Pandey, “What is happening to our university campuses is part of larger exercise to communalise the society and polarise the voters. In doing so the fascist tendencies of RSS/BJP are killing all spaces of dissent, so essential for any academic activity.”
He adds, “The BHU VC thought that the only reason why students needed a 24 hours internet facility was to be able to watch pornography. The mindset of people in power since 2014 has been anti-intellectual and is causing permanent damage to our academic institutions.”
Stating that the book has been written to “share these concerns so that the fight against retrograde forces could be strengthened, not only to save the academic campuses but also the larger society”, Pandey believes, “The liberal values of liberty, equality, justice, fraternity-sorority and the entire Constitution is under threat today.”
He asserts, “A basic question is confronting Indian society today, whether democracy will survive or not? It is hoped that the book will contribute in some way towards this larger struggle.”
Introducing Pandey in the Foreword to the book, Rajmohan Gandhi -- biographer and research professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US, and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi -- has called him one of India's "finest sons", who after obtaining a doctorate in a top American university, "could have created a prosperious life for himslf", but chose instead to return to India and "use his gifted mind to assist the weak and forgotten."
According to Gandhi, while Pandey's "family needs" compelled him to resume teaching at his alma mater, BHU, "Unwilling to silence his conscience, he fought at BHU for the rights of women students." 
Later, "When Prof GD Agrawal, crusader for the environment and for a free-flowing Ganga, died from a prolonged fast in June 2018, Pandey ensured that the utlimate sacrifice of Prof Agrawal was made known to as many Indians as possible."

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