According to reports, Dr. Firoz Khan has gone into hiding and switched his mobile phone off after students held a protest sit-in outside the residence of the Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University.
“All my life, I learnt Sanskrit and I was never made to realise I am a Muslim, but now when I am trying to teach, suddenly it has become the only subject,” Khan told the English daily, The Indian Express.
Students said, it was all about “our feelings and culture”. “How will he be able to understand us and our dharma,” said one of the protesting students.
The University authorities tried to reason with the students that Sanskrit literature has nothing to do with religion. Even students from other departments found the protests outrageous. Khan’s father was also a Sanskrit scholar.
Banaras Hindu University has been in the thick of several controversies in recent times. One professor was forced to resign from the University’s campus in Lucknow, capital of northern Uttar Pradesh for removing the flag of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the right-wing ideological ally of India’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Banaras Hindu University is one of the oldest higher education institutions in India founded in 1905. The students claimed the inscription on a foundation stone laid by its founder Madan Mohan Malaviya mentions that only Hindus and followers of Jainism, Buddhism and the Arya Samaj were allowed to enter the Sanskrit Department.