Nalanda University authorities said that they have suspended a student of the varsity on charges of sexually harassing a fellow student. The suspension comes in the wake of protests by a group of students who alleged that the university authorities had covered up the complaint.
Almost 100 university students participated in a protest on 29 March, accusing acting Vice-Chancellor Pankaj Mohan of failing to take the matter seriously. The students said that the accused was a repeat offender and that Mohan had discouraged the complainant from pursuing the matter.
A student from the university’s Department of Historical Studies – which Mohan heads – told The Quint:
The university has been laid-back and has failed to take any action against any sexual harassment complaints. This lack of response is completely unacceptable.
Students Demand Action
Students said that after the university officials failed to respond to the February 2017 complaint by the aggrieved student, a group of them approached the Internal Complaints Committee (an external body).
Students allege that the university authorities did not take any action, despite the ICC having recommended that the accused be expelled.
Nalanda University student The university has been insensitive to harassment complaints, even mental harassment. The university has protected the accused, despite a strict recommendation from an independent body.
Late on 28 March, a group of students gathered at the residential quarters of the faculty members to protest inaction on the part of the authorities. The Interim Vice Chancellor had objected to the late-night protest and had called the police to the scene.
On the morning of 29 March, students took out an over 2km-long protest march, from Rajgir bus stand to the main gates of the Nalanda University. Upon reaching the varsity premises, the students met the Station House Officer and the acting Vice Chancellor in the latter’s chamber.
A student told The Quint that the protesters have demanded that Pankaj Mohan be asked to resign from all three positions he holds – Interim Vice-Chancellor, the Dean of the School of Historical Studies, and professor.
When contacted on Wednesday afternoon, Nalanda University authorities told The Quint that the accused student was suspended on 29 March, a day after being shifted to another hostel.
Smita Polite, Director of Communications, Nalanda UniversityThe recommendation was received on the night of 20 March 2017, and after consulting with the University authorities and advice of the Registrar, the recommendation was approved on 27 March 2017. As an interim measure, the student was shifted to another hostel on 28 March 2017, and after receiving the approval of the Chancellor, the student was suspended today. Further action will be taken in due course according to the recommendation of the ICC, and due process of the law will be followed.
Join The Quint on WhatsApp. Type “JOIN” and send to 9910181818