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Jadavpur University Prof Accused of Making Casteist Remark to Student

The accused assistant professor was the research supervisor of the student, who belongs to the Other Backward Class (OBC) category.
Jadavpur University

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Delhi: An alleged incident of caste discrimination has been reported at the Department of International Relations at the renowned Jadavpur University in Kolkata.

The head of the International Relations (IR) department has written to vice-chancellor Suranjan Das seeking action against an assistant professor of the department for allegedly attacking a PhD student “on the basis of her caste identity by referring to terms like quota”The Telegraph reported.

According to an university official who spoke to the newspaper, the assistant professor in question was the research supervisor of the student, who belongs to the Other Backward Class (OBC) category.

The student had earlier written to the authorities appealing the replacement of her supervisor because she felt her research was not progressing at the necessary pace.

The PhD research committee (PRC), which includes teachers from the International Relations department, held a meeting in September to discuss the student’s appeal. At this meeting, the assistant professor allegedly attacked the student by referring to her caste and the reservation associated with it.

Following this, the head of the IR department, Iman Kalyan Lahiri, sent a letter to the VC quoting the PRC’s resolution. He said in his letter that as the head of the PRC, he could not accept the caste-based remarks allegedly made by the said teacher. Lahiri added that the department’s board of studies has also condemned the teacher’s conduct.

“Further, she (the teacher) attacked the candidate on the basis of her caste identity by referring to terms like ‘quota’. This was vehemently opposed by the members of the PRC. The members were shocked by her attitude,” Lahiri’s letter quotes from the resolution, according to the report.

“Since it is evident from the version of the teacher that she is prejudicial to the candidate based on her caste identity in public, it is now crucial for the higher authority to intervene,” the letter further said. It added that the PRC recommended that the issue should be raised before the VC and necessary action should be taken in view of the matter’s sensitivity and the candidate’s social background.

However, when The Telegraph contacted the accused teacher, she dismissed the allegations against her, calling them “baseless and ridiculous”. She told The Telegraph that anyone could make allegations, but they had to be proven.

The VC informed the newspaper that he has forwarded the complaint to the departmental research committee, which he believed had the authority to take the required steps in this case.

Meanwhile, the student told The Telegraph that she sought to be released from her guide because she did not receive the guidance she needed for her research.

“I twice wrote to the authorities concerned, seeking a change of my guide. At that point, I did not sense any caste prejudice towards me in the conduct of my teacher. But I came to know after a complaint was lodged with the VC on behalf of my department that I was attacked at a meeting for my caste,” the student said on Monday.

Stating that the Assistant Professor’s actions amounted to an offense, she informed that despite belonging to the OBC category, she was pursuing the PhD as a general category student. The student now has another teacher as her temporary guide.

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