Were the BHU Students Targeted for Taking Part in CAA Protests?

The Quint spoke to three BHU students who were detained by the UP police in the wake of crackdown on CAA protesters.

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On 19 December, just days before the convocation, a group of BHU students had gone out to buy new clothes ahead of the big day.

It was on that very day when another group of BHU students and some local activists in Varanasi had called for a peaceful protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the city’s Beniyaganj locality.

These students who were in an auto to buy new kurtas were apprehended by the UP police even before they could reach the marketplace. Around 20 students were arrested that day. Eight of them were released five days later after being detained by the police.

The Quint spoke to three such students who claim that the police took them forcefully to the Dashashwamedh police station, despite them telling the cops that they were not protesters.

“Just one crossing before Godowlia, police had put a barricade and was checking whether someone belonged to BHU. If someone would say that they are from BHU then they would be subjected to verbal abuses, pushed and would be taken to the Dashashwamedh police station.”
BHU student who was detained (on condition of anonymity)

These students also claim that not only was the term ‘rioter’ used by the police personnel as they were dragged out of the auto, they were not allowed to seek any legal help or even inform their parents for that matter.

Priyesh Pander, member of BHU’s JAC (Joint Action Committee) shows photo of an activist arrested in Varanasi in connection with the CAA protests.
Priyesh Pander, member of BHU’s JAC (Joint Action Committee) shows photo of an activist arrested in Varanasi in connection with the CAA protests.
(Photo: Akanksha Kumar/ The Quint)
“For five days I had been detained by the police. You can imagine that if someone’s child has come to another place to study and is incommunicado for five days what would have the parents gone through.”
BHU student who was detained (on condition of anonymity)

Following a spate of ‘arbitrary’ arrests in the wake of anti CAA protests in Varanasi, that also happens to be the parliamentary constituency of PM Modi, the campus of BHU is abuzz with voices of dissent.

On the day of the convocation, 23-year-old Rajat Singh, a final year student at BHU refused to accept his degree. His batchmates too, joined in protest, holding placards that displayed educational qualification of their batchmates in jail and demanded their immediate release.

“Has the state been able to manage this situation? It is in fact making the situation worse.How do we trust the state and its administration? The protest in which slogan was raised that ‘We are out to save this country. Come and join us’ FIR is filed against protesters saying that these slogans are anti-national.”
Rajat Singh, BHU Student (who refused to take his degree)

Apparently there are multiple factions among the teaching staff of BHU with multiple signature campaigns being initiated both in favour of as well as against the CAA. 51 professors of the BHU signed a letter on 26 December 2019 requesting the government to take back the CAA.

Amidst both pro as well as anti CAA campaigns being run by the teaching staff of BHU, Prof Binda Paranjape is among 51 professors who have urged the govt to take back CAA.
Amidst both pro as well as anti CAA campaigns being run by the teaching staff of BHU, Prof Binda Paranjape is among 51 professors who have urged the govt to take back CAA.
(Photo: Akanksha Kumar/ The Quint)
“I feel that it is absolutely against the spirit of our Constitution. The secular credentials of the Constitution are being challenged.”
Prof Binda Paranjape, History Department, BHU

As CAA protests continue to gain momentum, the question remains whether the BHU students were targeted for merely voicing concerns about a law passed by the ruling government.

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