Published: 24th June 2019
IIT Indore researcher who accused guide of harassment has stipend withheld since January
Shyam Singh is a PhD researcher in IIT Indore's Discipline of Biosciences and Biomedical Engineering and his claims are scary if nothing else
It has been a little over three years since Shyam Singh joined IIT Indore's Discipline of Biosciences and Biomedical Engineering (BSBE) to pursue his PhD. Like any researcher, all that he wanted was to finish his project at the earliest and earn his PhD. But he tells us that contrary to his expectations, what he did face was a series of insults, threats and harassment from his guide and the Institute.
That is not just it. Shyam says that his guide, Dr Hem Chandra Jha has allegedly "banned" him from entering their lab in the IIT Indore campus. This researcher has also not received his fellowship stipend since December. He also alleges that the institute's disciplinary committee has framed him for cybercrime and that his colleagues are banned from having any interaction with him. Now that his research has come to a standstill and he has all but lost his mental peace, he is planning to take legal action against his guide and the institute.
Shyam recalls that his initial few months in the institute were smooth. But it all began when he, along with a few colleagues quit the supervision of his earlier guide, following an allegation of sexual misconduct against the latter. Following the incident, he resumed working under Dr Jha, from 2016. "Around six to seven months into the research project, Dr Jha started constantly telling me that I must quit my research since nobody in the institute likes me. This came as a shocker to me," says Shyam.
"I decided to not reciprocate initially and concentrate on my work. But what followed was a series of torture and insults," he adds. He also recalls how even the silliest mistakes were tools to shower insults at him. "I was always discriminated against. The torture escalated over time. He even threatened to break my skull and beat me up," he claims.
For Shyam, the most unfortunate event happened on December 5, when Dr Jha allegedly 'threw him out of the lab'. "He furiously said that he will throw my cell culture reagents and chemicals. Following this, I left the lab," he says. Since then, he hasn't received his fellowship stipend.
The next conversation between Shyam and Jha took place in March. "Jha told me that my thesis makes no sense and he won't refer me. I asked them to prove it. He refuses to proceed or give authorship to me for my written manuscript. Also, the institute hasn't allotted any work nor made any provision for the continuation of my PhD," he says.
As Shyam poignantly narrates his story, he doesn't know what to do. Constant emails that he'd sent to the institute also haven't yielded any results. But unfortunately, his case has been forwarded to a disciplinary committee. Also, a colleague who had allegedly helped Shyam compose the emails was sent a notice of suspension. "It's been more than 60 days. My fellowship is also on hold and my issue is before the disciplinary committee. My thesis isn't approved too," he adds.
We were unable to reach Dr Jha for a comment on the same.