How many of you have heard this Latin word sine die (which means without a day or postponement for an indefinite time)? Well, it was a buzzword around BHU three decades ago during our time. Between 1967 and 1975, there was a period of violent demonstrations, resulting in closure of entire university for about 2-3 weeks every year. Till 1967, our university was known as internationally reputed central university. Students flocked to the university from all over India as well as from abroad. The political trouble started when Vice Chancellors were political appointees by ruling (Congress) party. To challenge the government,opposition Bharatiya Jan Sangh/RSS) party started violent demonstration.
A typical sine die ran like this: Just after Diwali vacation was over, there was daily political speech given by a local street leader. Sponsored by the opposition, he stood just outside university’s main gate and delivered profane against, govt., VC and university administration. A small passerby crowd collected at the scene, while others sensed the upcoming sine die in the air. After few weeks, sensing trouble, the administration called in Provincial Armed Constabulary to patrol the campus area. This was enough to provoke the militant students, who were usually from other (arts, science and agricultural) faculties. Although small in number, they had strong backing from local opposition leaders. Soon there was heavy brickbating between police and students around arts and science faculties. The part of the campus was littered with bricks & small bush fires. No one could venture out of his hostel, and everyone listened to news mixed with rumours. Sometimes police chased miscreants to their hostel rooms and beat them up. Fearing loss of student life, proctor decided to declare sine die, or indefinite closure of the university till further notice. Everyone glued to radio and waited for news.
In the early morning, BBC broke the news that authorities have declared sine die and all students are asked to leave the campus immediately. Students packed their luggage and boarded buses to railway station for onward journey. Families and neighbours were surprised to see us again immediately after Diwali vacation. National newspapers came out with screaming headlines such as “sine die declared at BHU; violence mars BHU campus”, etc. After about 2 to 3 weeks, we got letter from university that now the sine die is over and it is safe to return to campus for study. The classes started normally as if nothing had happened.
In 1974, we witnessed one of the most shocking and gruesome incidents outside Morvi hostel. As the violence continued between students and police in other parts of the campus, we saw two unarmed policemen traveling in a rickshaw in front of our hostel. Some of the troublemakers had blocked the road with cement pipes. Others lay hiding with bricks in hand. As the rickshaw stopped near the roadblock, miscreants came out and hit the policemen on their heads with bricks. Needless to say, they died on the spot and attackers ran away. Within minutes, a PAC truck arrived and they cordoned off our hostel. Using presence of mind, the hostel warden closed all the gates and denied entry to policemen.
Another reason for yearly violence by students was to cancel exams and receive mass promotions in arts and other faculties. Although IT was not involved in any way, its image suffered due to constant negative publicity. The degrading quality of students prompted IT director Dr. S.S. Saluja to take students from JEE pool from 1972. The sine die occurrence stopped in 1975, when ruling government cracked down on mischiefmakers during emergency rule. It is a great relief that the dark age of sine die is behind us.
Chemical Engineering 1977
First Published in Annual Issue 2004 – 2005 of REVERBERATIONS: The IT-BHU Magazine.
Thanks to Shashank Jain (Mech 08) for mailing this issue to our mech08 group.
"And then what happens?"
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