Published: 28th November 2019
'Whistleblower' IIT Guwahati professor's access to faculty group emails cut off
The IIT faculty and administration have a group email system that allows the members to send common emails to all the others
The IIT Guwahati administration allegedly blocked Prof Brijesh Kumar Rai's access to group emails on Wednesday. The professor has been embroiled in a controversy over the last few months and has claimed to have been repeatedly targeting by the administration for being a whistleblower. This, he says is their latest act of harassment.
The IIT faculty and administration have a group email system that allows the members to send common emails to all the others. On Wednesday, Rai found out he no more had access to this group, "I can not read email of these groups nor I can send emails to these groups. They do not want me to get any information nor they want me to be able to provide any information to the community. My right to receive information and provide information and freedom of expression has been violated," the assistant professor said.
A few weeks ago, Rai sent an email to all the faculty on campus narrating the harassment he has been facing on campus ever since he began to raise questions about rampant corruption on campus. It was only after he sent this email, that students on campus also came to know about the issues and organised a protest in solidarity with the professor. The protest got media attention and it is because of this, the professor feels, his email access was blocked.
The candlelight march that the students conducted for Rai
"They did not even inform me before blocking my access to these group emails so that I could have taken backup. Neither they have any decency nor they have any fear of the law of the land as they believe "the Institute has very deep pockets", as the administration once said to a student," Rai said.
When Rai got in touch with the communication operator, he was allegedly told that the deputy director had instructed him to block Rai. The professor was also informed that the decision had gotten approval from the director, "They appoint the director to head the disciplinary committee when my complaints are against him. How is this fair?" Rai asks.
"Who has given authority to the director of IITG to indulge in such illegal activity? He is misusing his position and authority to harass me. What is the justification behind blocking my access to group emails? Without even giving me any show-cause notice regarding this, they have blocked my access, which is a gross violation of the principle of natural justice," the professor said.
The professor has received several show-cause notices from the administration, some have crossed the one-year validity period too. "In the past year, I have tried to educate myself as much about law as I can, so that I can fight my case," he says.
Rai complained that despite the court lifting his suspension, he continues to be ostracised. He has no classes or even access to his office, which he says has been locked up, "They don't respond to my emails, they haven't gotten in touch with me since the show-cause hearing either. Unless something huge happens, nobody seems to care. Only when Vemula died, did people start talking about the issue. I guess the MHRD will only pay attention when something horrible happens."