Following suit of the #MeToo movement and zero tolerance against sexual harassment, over 200 students of Bharti College of Delhi University renewed their protest against the shielding and inaction over a professor accused of sexual harassment. Speaking with NewsClick, Paridhi, the President of Bharti college students’ body explained, “The internal complaints committee (ICC) had submitted its report in August this year, despite that there was no action taken against the professor by the administration. The victim had directly approached VC Yogesh Tyagi as well, however, he too shielded the professor.”
The committee in its report, had held the professor guilty of sexual harassment and had found that the RSS affiliated professor had used his position of power for manipulating young students for sexual favours.
Paridhi added, “Following the students’ repeated protests, the college has taken cognisance of the matter. As a result of our anger, show cause notices have been issued to him and the professor has been sent on a leave as well, but we want to ensure that he is given a compulsory retirement and no other student has to deal with this ordeal.”
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The complaints against the professor had initially surfaced in February this year, as a third year student had accused the professor of sending objectionable text messages asking her for sexual favours. The student had written to the Vice Chancellor Yogesh Tyagi too stating the ordeal she had to face. However, she did not receive any response from either party. The student had also released a video of her confronting the professor to substantiate her claims.
Following the first complaint, additional complaints from three other students surfaced alleging that the Political Science professor was sending the students inappropriate messages and calling them at inappropriate hours.
After the preliminary complaints, the general body of the college had recommended suspension of the professor as an interim measure five months ago. Procedurally, the decision needs the approval of the VC which is given without delay in sensitive cases like this. But in this case, however, the VC allegedly continued stalling the removal of the professor.
Another professor at the college, who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “The struggle of the students had to be prolonged, primarily due to the political clout the accused enjoys because of his affiliations to the BJP-RSS.”
The VC has also been facing flak over delay in action and for citing reasons to protect the professor. Sources confirmed that the VC allegedly demanded documentation and sensitive information from the ICC regarding the complainants, which is not permitted in law. This is the same VC who had previously been in the limelight during PM Modi’s degree row, when he refused to furnish the PM’s certificate.
The College’s ICC, presided over by Rakhi Jain and its 10 members, found that the professor did not express any remorse about his actions, instead trying to justify his conduct citing misunderstanding on the part of the victim.
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Action against the accused in the case was further delayed as he had filed three petitions in the Delhi High Court against the College. The petitions were dismissed by the court but since the matter had become sub judice the process was stalled.
As a result of the students’ continued protest, the response of the Professor is now being carefully looked at by the governing body presided over by Ajay Gaur. The Principal of Bharti College, Mukti Sanyal also assured the students by stating that the process will be dealt with in a transparent manner.
The students of the college told Newsclick that even though they remain sceptical of the process, they vowed to continue the fight.
Notably, the accused professor had previously been removed from his position at Shyamlal College of Delhi University, following similar allegations.