Actor and former BJP MP Paresh Rawal says he is "stunned" by the protests against a Muslim professor in the Sanskrit faculty of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) who is facing opposition from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). By this logic, he said, neither the legendary Mohammed Rafi nor music composer Naushad should have collaborated on bhajans (devotional songs).
The Banaras Hindu University has been in the headlines for the ABVP and many of its students protesting against the appointment of Firoz Khan as an assistant professor in the Sahitya department of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan (SVDV). Pointing out that language had no correlation with religion, Rawal appealed to the students to not engage in "idiocy". "Stunned by the protest against professor Feroz Khan! what language has to do with Religion!?!?!? The irony is professor Feroz has done his masters and PhD in Sanskrit !!! For Heaven's sake stop this god damn idiocy! (sic)" the 64-year-old actor said in an impassioned tweet on Tuesday.
Rawal condemned the protests in a follow-up tweet, saying, "By same logic great singer late Shri Mohammad Rafi ji should not have sung any BHAJANS and Naushad Saab should not have composed it! (sic)." The singer-composer duo has collaborated on many songs, including numbers with 'bhakti ras' such as "Man Tarpat Hari Darshan Ko Aaj" from "Baiju Bawra" (1952) and "Madhuban mein Radhika nache re" from "Kohinoor" (1960).
Last week, the BHU backed the appointment of Khan, saying it is committed to provide equal opportunities to everyone irrespective of religion, caste, community or gender. In a statement, the BHU said the administration had already made it clear that the selection committee unanimously recommended the selection of the said candidate on the basis of prescribed guidelines of the University Grants Commission and the central government. The selection committee, chaired by Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar, had met on November 5 and recommended the most suitable candidate for the said position on the basis of the applicants' performance in the interview, it said.