Published: 11th May 2019
Johri comes to JNU everyday, just to show that he can: Why students are stressed about #MeToo tainted Prof one year on
Atul Johri had recently submitted an affidavit at the Delhi High Court saying that the complainants were trying to harass, malign and humiliate him
Since the beginning of 2019, every day, Atul Kumar Johri apparently reaches JNU's School of Life Sciences at around 9.30 am. He's been a Professor there since February 2014. According to students, he stays in his cabin for a maximum of an hour and then leaves.
Students of the School of Life Sciences have observed these goings-on with a mixture of fear and anger. A year after eight women from the school came out with allegations of sexual harassment, things have sort of come full circle - a result of his being given a clean chit by JNU's Internal Complaints Committee.
"He doesn't deliver any lectures. He comes on time and leaves in 15 minutes on most days. He doesn't utter a word, but he just wants to show that nothing can stop him," says a member of the SLS' Student-Faculty Council. A year ago, in March 2018, eight separate FIRs were filed by SLS students, accusing Johri of sexually harassing them. Several protests later, in January 2019, the JNU Internal Complaints Committee gave Johri a clean chit on this case and said that Johri possesses no threat to the students, but was instead threatened by the complainants and the witnesses.
The complainants had submitted a plea against this in the Delhi High Court. Following this, Johri had reportedly submitted an affidavit, where he said that the plea was aimed to malign, harass and humiliate him and that he had always complied with the SLS' rules and regulations. We contacted the complainants and their representatives for a reaction and they were understandably furious. "He doesn't have anything to defend himself. But unfortunately, the JNU administration is helping him," says a complainant.
A section of the students have also stated that Johri's constant presence in the school has caused them a lot of stress. "I was walking on the corridor with a complainant, when Johri suddenly appeared from our left. She suddenly panicked and climbed the stairs to avoid him," says the SFC member. He also says that the issue of how Johri's presence makes the complainants uncomfortable has been raised in several meetings. "But the Dean of our school says that Johri has the permission from the administration. But no one has ever seen any paper that says so. The JNUSU has also raised a lot of questions on the Johri issue, but the Dean kept quiet," he says.
He also said that the SLS students will protest in case Johri restarts teaching.