More than a dozen female MBBS students from the state-run Kalwa hospital (officially the Chhatrapati Shivaji Hospital) have accused a senior professor from the surgery department of sexual harassment.
The complaint, which was emailed to the dean, Dr Choity Maitra, and Thane Police Commissioner Vijay Kamble around a week ago, said the professor would order the female students to “demonstrate breast self-examination in front of the entire class, including male students”, and also touch their private parts in the guise of lecturing.
The complaint also said that on several occasions, during practicals, the professor would slip his hands inside the female patients’ shirts while claiming to be explaining the technicalities of dealing with ailments related to chest. The complaint said that the professor, while examining female patients during the out-patient department (OPD) hours, would summon the students for practicals.
“We have been going through hell for the past several months,” one of the complainants told this newspaper. “During practicals, the professor would order us to bend while keeping our hands apart. He would then touch us in the guise of lecturing the students. He has been harassing us for a long time but no-one dared to complain fearing his position in the institute.”
The professor denied having asked the students to demonstrate breast self-examination techniques. “I have been working for this institute for the past 20 years, and not once has anyone levelled such absurd allegations against me.” he told this newspaper.
The professor said that his female students were like his “daughters”, and such allegations could be a result of him insisting on “discipline in the classroom and regular attendance”.
The students, however, claimed the professor was a pervert who misused his authority every day. “On one occasion, he insisted that the female patients who came in for treatment in the OPD take off their shirts despite strong protests.
He said it was necessary as he needed to show us the diagnosis techniques of breast and chest-related ailments,” a final-year student said.
While Thane Police Commissioner Kamble confirmed receiving the email and said the complaint has been forwarded to the relevant police station, V D Walvi, the senior police inspector from Kalwa Police Station said, “We are aware of the complaint. We are investigating the charges.” Meanwhile, the medical college dean, Dr Maitra, said an inhouse probe has been launched to verify the allegations.
“The probe is being conducted by our inhouse committee dealing with sexual harassment at workplace. The report is likely to be submitted in another 10 days. If the professor is indeed guilty, he will be handed exemplary punishment,” Maitra said.