Published: 25th February 2019
Maneka Gandhi wants Symbiosis Hyd to reinstate students evicted for filing sexual harassment complaints
The exams are scheduled to happen in April and the two students have still not received any communication regarding their reinstatement
A letter from Maneka Gandhi's Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has asked the Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad to allow the two female students who were evicted on October 26, 2018, to attend classes.
The news about the eviction of two female students, Apoorva YK and Snigdha Jayakrishnan, from Symbiosis, shocked the public last year, and they have been sharing their discontent on social media since then. In October 2018, Apoorva and Snigdha were evicted from the campus and asked to leave the hostel campus for having spoken out against one of their professors on Facebook and accusing him of 'constant ogling and causing discomfort'. They haven’t been able to attend classes since then.
Snigdha Jayakrishnan, who was evicted from the campus for speaking out against sexual harassment by a professor
The MWCD's intervention comes months after Jhatkaa.org, a campaigning organisation started a campaign asking the institute to start an investigation against the accused and reinstate the students.
Jhaatka's campaign garnered 2,000 signatures in just two months. They also hosted calls and emails to authorities at Symbiosis and launched aggressive social media storms. The MCWD has confirmed to Jhaatka that it seeks Symbiosis to allow the girls to attend classes soon.
"In today’s age where anti-sexual harassment policies are given priority, the manner in which Symbiosis Law School has dealt with the situation is outrageous. It is absolutely unacceptable to penalise and victimise students who lodge complaints about sexual harassment," said Jyotsna George, gender and sexuality campaigns manager with Jhatkaa.org.
Jhaatka members say that the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at Symbiosis finally came up with its recommendations in January this year. However, Apoorva told Edex that even with their exams approaching soon, the institution hasn’t taken any steps to reinstate the students.
I have been told that MCWD has intervened, communicated with Jhaatka about this issue and asked our college to take us back. However, we do not have any official confirmation as our college email ids have been blocked by the administration where we were previously communicating with Jhaatka. The MCWD might have sent us emails about the current scenario but we are unable to access our official email ids
Apoorva YK, one of the students who has been evicted
The two girls had written a complaint letter on April 1 to the National Commission for Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human Resources Development and the State Women’s Commission about institutional mismanagement of sexual harassment complaints.
The eviction letter provided by the Symbiosis administration to the two female students (Pic: Apoorva)
"It's been four months since we were evicted from the campus without any concrete proof or hard copies of documents stating the allegations made against us. We had only received an eviction letter and a document containing 18 to 20 allegations against us written in one line each. No one from the administration gave an explanation as to why we were being evicted. We were just told that the documents were pending before the Dean's committee and we should vacate the campus till further notice," adds Apoorva.
They have filed a case at the Hyderabad High Court regarding their eviction. "We have the third hearing on March 1. Let's see what the HC has to say. Prior to that, if the MCWD has recommended our reinstatement and Symbiosis is willing to take us back then this case will not stand," concludes Apoorva.