Kolkata: A Tribal Assistant Professor at Sabang Sajanikanta Mahavidyalaya in West Medinipur district has alleged “ragging” by a colleague and the college principal for the last few months due to her tribal identity, causing her mental stress.
Papia Mandi, Assistant Professor of Bengali at the college, alleged she was being ragged “for quite some time” but that it escalated during an incident on September 11 when she asked a student during an online viva exam to define tribals.
One of her colleagues, Nirmal Bera, who was on the same viva panel allegedly cut short the student’s reply defining tribals as “dwellers of the land from ancient time” and instead said tribals were those who “jumped from one tree branch to another,” Mandi claimed.
The statement was allegedly made in front of 36 students. “I was not paid my salary for one year and was given only one and a half months of maternity leave which made me ill. But it seems that torment was not enough,” Mandi told NewsClick.
“What is the reason for me not getting one year’s salary when all my those who joined service at the same time as me have got their salary earlier?” she said.
Mandi said Principal Swapan KR Dutta “openly sided with the accused professor and promoted him as the head of Teachers’ Council” even though an Inquiry Committee had been set up by the college authorities on the issue.
On September 15, at a meeting of the Teachers’ Council, Bera allegedly refused to tender an unconditional apology to Mandi, or given one in writing. She then informed TMC Minister Manas Bhunia and the College’s Governing Body president of the incident. However, she alleged that thereafter her “ragging and pressure from the principal” increased to a “great extent”.
This is not the first such recent case in the state. Last year, Maroona Murmu, an Associate Professor at Jadavpur University (JU), faced casteist trolling on social media after which a sensitization campaign was supposedly taken up by the state’s Higher Education department on the subject. JU’s Anti-Ragging Committee had opined in Murmu’s favour. However, in this case, no such decision yet has been taken in Mandi’s favour by the college authorities.
Mandi also wrote to the State Education Minister, and has approached the police to register an FIR under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
On October 29, the Supreme Court had said in an unrelated case, that atrocities against members of SC/ST are “not a thing of the past”.