Week after ABVP assault, Dalit professor attacked by SP student leader for remark on Kashi temple

A Dalit professor at Lucknow University was assaulted by a student associated with the Samajwadi Party’s student outfit on the campus on Wednesday, days after he spoke about the Kashi Vishwanath temple, assaulted by ABVP’s students and booked by Uttar Pradesh Police for his remarks.

“Karthik Pandey, a student leader, came to me and started hurling abuses and casteist slurs at me and hit me,” Professor Ravi Kant Chandan of the university’s Hindi department said to PTI news agency.

The incident occurred around 1 pm outside the proctor’s office.

“I have filed a complaint with the police regarding the incident. This incident shows that my life is under constant threat,” the professor alleged.

Two guards accompanying the professor overpowered the student and handed him over to the police, the news agency reported.

The student, Kartik Pandey, is an officer bearer of the Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha, a student outfit of the Samajwadi Party.

Pandey was ousted from the outfit hours after the incident.

Karthik Pandey was suspended for attacking the professor and a committee has been formed to investigate the matter, Lucknow University spokesperson Durgesh Srivastav said.

A FIR was registered against Lucknow University Hindi professor Ravikant Chandan for his remarks during an online debate on the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque controversy.

The case was based on a complaint by a student of the university and an ABVP worker, Aman Dubey, who alleges the Dalit professor of hurting Hindu sentiments.

Chandan was heckled last week by members of the Hindu nationalist student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad inside the university campus.

He was charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 153-A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion etc.); 504 (intentional insult with the intent to prove a breach of peace); 505(2) (statements conducive to public mischief committed in a place of worship); and Section 66 of the IT Act.

In the online debate, Chandan quoted a story from a book called “Feathers and Stones” by Pattabhi Sitaramayya, an independence activist and political leader from Andhra Pradesh, about why Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi was demolished by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

The story in the book described a rape that took place inside the temple complex when Aurangzeb was passing through Varanasi.

In a video statement, Kant had said his voice was being suppressed because he is a Dalit.

“I made a statement quoting a story from a book about how the mosque came to be constructed in Varanasi. That statement and the reference to the book were edited out and a clip was shared suggesting I was hurting Hindu sentiments. I had no such intention. I was merely referring to a story, not even a factual account,” the professor said.

“Despite this, students of the ABVP and outsiders came here and raised objectionable slogans. With the help of the police, I spoke to the students and asked them to see the whole clip and expressed regret if anyone’s sentiments were hurt. I did post the incident on Facebook. I am a Dalit and follow the values of Baba Saheb’s Constitution and I feel my voice is being suppressed, being from this community,” the professor added.