Facing protests in BHU, Firoz Khan leaves Varanasi

Students stage a protest dharna at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) against the appointment of a Muslim teacher of Sanskrit at the universirty, in Varanasi, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Dr Firoz Khan, the Muslim teacher, who was facing protests from the students against his appointment as a teacher in the Sanskrit department at the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi, left the town with a heavy heart and would return only after the situation ''improves''.

According to the BHU officials, Dr Khan had returned to his home town in Rajasthan. ''He will return after the situation improves,'' a varsity official said in Varanasi on Wednesday.

The official said that Khan decided to leave the campus after efforts to persuade the students to call off their protests against his appointment failed.

''The students remained adamant on their demand to either cancel Khan's appointment or appoint him in some other department...it is not possible,'' the official added.

Khan, who possessed a doctorate in Sanskrit from 'Rashtriya Sanskrit Shiksha Sansthan' at Jaipur, was appointed as an assistant professor in the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan at the varsity recently.

A section of the students, however, refused to be taught by him saying that a 'non-Hindu' could not be made a member of the faculty, where the students were taught ancient Indian 'shastra', Sanskrit language and literature.

The students have been holding a 'dharna' in front of the office of the vice-chancellor for the past 13 days. They claimed that the founder of the varsity Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya had clearly stated that only a person, who believed in Hinduism, could be appointed as a faculty member.

BHU officials, however, said that the appointment was made in accordance with the University Grants Commission's (UGC) guidelines. ''There can not be any discrimination on the basis of religion or caste,'' an official said.

The Hindu community was divided on Khan's appointment. While some Sanskrit scholars found nothing wrong with Khan's appointment, some others supported the students' demand to shift him elsewhere.

Incidentally, Firoz's family had a tradition of learning the Sanskrit language. His father too had a degree in the ancient Indian language. The 'Kashi Vidwat Parishad', a widely respected organisation of Hindu scholars in Varanasi, would soon meet to discuss the issue and take a stand on the same.

The Faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan offers bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in the studies of ancient Indian Shastra, Sanskrit language and Sanskrit literature.

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