Students at the Nalanda University have accused their vice-chancellor of trying to bury a sexual harassment case and ignoring repeated grave complaints against a particular student.
The interim vice-chancellor of Nalanda University has been accused of trying to bury a sexual harassment filed against a student in the college, and of protecting him from being rusticated.
In response to the vice-chancellor’s inaction, several students have taken out a protest against him in the university, demanding his expulsion.
Vice-Chancellor Pankaj Mohan is said to have ignored and discouraged the student who was sexually harassed and her colleagues when they approached him with the complaint, invoking the university’s “reputation”.
Speaking to IndiaToday.in, a student of Nalanda University said that the issue has been ignored since 2015, when a first-year female student approached Mohan for the first time with the sexual harassment case against the man in question.
“He [Mohan] was her mentor back then,” said the student. “When she informally complained to him about this man, who was her classmate, the professor shrugged off the matter.”
She added that Mohan then told the complainant, “Biharis are like that.”
MULTIPLE CASES AGAINST THE ACCUSED, STILL NO ACTION
Students took out a protest on Tuesday demanding the vice-chancellor’s resignation, suspension of the accused student, and demanding the university to file an FIR regarding the sexual harassment case.
So far, the only action taken has been of shifting the accused student from one hostel to another.
“The student in question has been a repeat offender in the university campus,” the student, who did not want to be named, said, speaking to IndiaToday.in. “Since his first year, he has repeatedly defamed female students on social media, harassed people, and also committed sexual harassment.”
“When he sexually harassed a student, she approached Professor Mohan, but he ignored it,” she said. “Since then, there have been multiple complaints made against this fellow but no action has ever been taken.”
Last month, a student body came together at Nalanda University and filed three formal complaints against the accused, now a second-year Master’s student.
In the light of these complaints, the university’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) took up the matter and called for a hearing.
“The accused did not even bother to attend the ICC hearing,” said the student.
After hearing the complaints, the ICC ruled that the accused student should be rusticated. However, it is not in the hands of the ICC to carry out this action, which is why they made the recommendation to the vice chancellor.
Despite the ICC’s recommendation to rusticate the accused, Vice-Chancellor Mohan is said to have taken no action.
“It has been over a week since the ICC made the recommendation, the VC has still not done anything about it,” said the student. “He keeps asking us to have ‘faith’ in the system, but that is not working.”
As for the accused, he is still said to be in the campus, only having been made to change hostels.
“In case of sexual harassment, the first step taken by the authorities here is segregation, which is to immediately separate the accused from the victims in classes, hostels, etc.” said the student. “In this case, that was done over a week later.”
Sources told IndiaToday.in that between 2015 and 2016, since the accused was in first-year, there have a series of complaints made against him by several students, female and male alike.
“Most importantly, it is not like the university was not aware of the accused student’s actions. He harassed and defamed people publicly, on social media, etc. It has been overlooked time and again,” she said.
The accused is also said to have sent death threats to the protesting students and the university’s registrar.
WHAT DOES THE VICE-CHANCELLOR HAVE TO SAY?
Vice-Chancellor Mohan has in turn accused the students of harassing him and other faculty members. Instead of protesting, he demanded the students to return to their classrooms and resume studying.
“I am awaiting the chairman of the governing body’s approval to execute the report’s recommendations. I have a limited powers as acting vice-chancellor,” Mohan told Scroll.in.
He has told the student’s to “have faith in the system” and that actions will be taken.
Students, on the other hand, claim that there have been other cases of sexual harassment regarding other people which he has not addressed either.
The vice chancellor’s office has still not filed any FIR against the accused, as the protesting students have demanded.
In fact, there has been no individual FIR filed in the case so far either.
Latest report is that police was summoned at the Nalanda University campus earlier today as the students continue their protest.
Breaking Now: Police called on the campus of Nalanda University in Bihar after students go on protest demanding removal of VC. #NalandaUnivpic.twitter.com/JTwNxExuV1
– GoNews (@GoNews24x7) March 29, 2017
[Names of the students have been withheld per request]
March 31, 2017 at 4:15 pm
The shielding of a student accused of sexual harassment by a person of the highest authority is regrettable