Govt asks BHU V-C to explain absence from campus amid COVID-19 pandemic

Written by Ritika Chopra
| New Delhi |

Published: April 6, 2020 1:15:00 am

Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar has not been in BHU since March 14. (File Photo/Representational)

The Union HRD Ministry has asked the vice-chancellor (V-C) of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to explain his absence from the campus given the gravity of the coronavirus outbreak even as the BHU hospital is designated for COVID-19 testing and treatment.

Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar has not been in BHU since March 14.

The ministry discovered this during a video-conference with all university heads on Saturday. A showcause notice seeking an explanation was issued to Bhatnagar the same day.

Bhatnagar told The Indian Express: “There were four meetings in Delhi on different dates – from March 14 to 19 – and I was attending all those meetings. (While in Delhi) I felt cold and feverish. Suspecting that I was infected (with COVID-19), I decided to stay back in Delhi and quarantine myself.”

By the time he recovered, the V-C said, the lockdown was implemented and he couldn’t travel to Varanasi.

“Whether I am in Banaras or Delhi it doesn’t matter, as I was working from home using communication technology,” he said.

During Saturday’s meeting, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal is learned to have asked how the BHU V-C is managing such a large campus from Delhi. Bhatnagar is a professor at JNU and was appointed the BHU head in April 2018.

Bhatnagar has a week to respond to the notice.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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