- Many BHU students took out a march in favour of Professor Firoze Khan
- Several students on protest against his appointment as Sanskrit professor
- Chief proctor said classes are likely to resume soon
As classes at Banaras Hindu University's (BHU) Sanskrit faculty remain suspended for the fourteenth straight day over a protest by students over a Muslim professor being appointed to teach Sanskrit , many in the university have now openly started speaking in favour of Professor Firoze Khan.
Many students from the university took out a march in favour of Professor Khan on Wednesday evening, saying the protest against him should end and he should be immediately allowed to start teaching the language. The march started from the main gates of the university, popularly known as the Lanka gate, and over 100 students under the banner of Joint Action Committee - BHU attended the march.
The students held a banner during the march which read, "We are with you Dr Firoze Khan". Professor Khan was appointed to the post of Assistant Professor in the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan faculty at BHU on November 5 but has been unable to teach because students at the faculty have sat on a protest outside the residence-cum-office of the university's vice-chancellor, demanding his appointment be cancelled as, according to them, non-Hindu cannot teach in such a specialised department.
But those who chose Firoze Khan to the post, including Professor Radhavallabh Tripathi, one of India's most eminent Sanskrit scholars who was on the selection panel, say Professor Khan was the most qualified candidate. "Firoze Khan was selected on the basis of his qualification and he was the most qualified person best suited for the post. He has been trained in "pathshala padhyati" which is the traditional way of teaching Sanskrit and he was just the best candidate. I think the resistance against the appointment is because of vested interests and it should not be allowed," Professor Tripathi told NDTV.
The university administration issued a fresh press release on Wednesday night, asking protesting students at the Sanskrit department to resume classes immediately.
BHU's chief proctor OP Rai said classes in the Sanskrit department are likely to resume today or in a few days. He said that the university stands by its decision on Professor Khan's appointment and has almost convinced the protesting students about it. "The university functions on the guidelines of the University Grants Commission and the HRD Ministry. What the university has done is absolutely right. It is not wrong," Mr Rai said.
Condemning the protest, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati tweeted: "The appointment of an eligible Muslim Sanskrit scholar by BHU as its teacher will be considered simply as giving patronage to talent and no one should be allowed to do any work that could be demoralising. It would be better if the government pays proper attention to it immediately."