New Delhi: A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader has backed a Muslim faculty of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), whose appointment as an assistant professor for the Sanskrit language has triggered protests from the student community.

No classes have been held in the literature department of the BHU’s Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan (SVDV) since November 7 after Feroz Khan’s appointment there earlier this month.

Speaking at an event, Dev Pujari, the national organisation secretary of the RSS’ Sanskrit Bharti, threw his weight behind Khan and remarked that the protest, as well as the grounds behind it, were ‘absurd.’ “It is absurd to see BHU students protesting against a Muslim professor appointed to teach them Sanskrit. I don’t know what the fundamentals of the BHU are, but I know that Sanskrit is for all.”

He further said that there is no limitation on learning a language, including Sanskrit, and anyone can learn, speak and teach it. “Students are talking about religion, but Sanskrit teaches culture and doesn’t promote any religion. They must withdraw their protest,” Pujari added.

The students, however, are unfazed and continue with their protest. They have even written to their vice-chancellor (VC), against the said appointment.

The university, as well as teachers and students, however, have expressed their support for the assistant professor. In a statement, BHU spokesperson Rajesh Singh, said, “The appointment was done on the basis of the potential of the candidate. The university does not stand for discrimination on the basis of religion, caste or gender. For the progress of the nation, it believes in providing equal opportunities of education to all.”

This is the second controversy to have hit the Varanasi-based BHU in recent days. Just about a week ago, a deputy chief proctor of its Mirzapur campus was forced to resign after an FIR was registered against her for ‘insulting’ an RSS flag.