Published: 03rd March 2021
BHU prof claims her maternity leave was discounted to reduce her seniority, to make a colleague HoD; stages sit-in protest
Under the guise of my maternity leave in 2013, the university manipulated and reduced her service time thus reducing her seniority, she said
Dr Shobhana Nerlikar, an associate professor of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has accused the administration of discrimination. She alleged that even though she is the next rightful contender for the post of the head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, the university has been trying hard to stop her. She had also accused the university staff of misbehaving with her and passing casteist remarks when she went to the office on Monday to talk about the long-drawn issue. She has been on a sit-in protest ever since. The university has said that it functions as per its act passed by the parliament and rules and regulations of the Government of India. "There is no bias against anyone," said an official at the university.
Even though Section Officer Surendra Mishra, who was accused of abusing and misbehaving with her, has publicly apologised, Dr Nerlikar is still on a protest. "I have been fighting for this for the past eight odd years. I have got no proper reply from the administration," said the professor who is planning to take out a protest march with the students and staff who are supporting her. "I joined the department as an Assistant Professor on August 19, 2002 and was already a PhD. Two days later, Dr Anurag Dave also joined the department as an assistant professor but he did not have a PhD at that time. Right after this, Dr Dr Shishir Basu joined as the post of Professor in the department. In 2003, he became the head of the department and started caste-based discrimination. He was the Head of the Department for two consecutive terms from 2003-2009 but he did not allot any scholars for my research. Dr Dave started his PhD under his supervision. In 2009, I went on maternity leave. I became an associate professor but was not promoted. What was this if not caste discrimination?" she asked.
Even after Dr Basu's term ended, she was not made the head of the department. From 2009 to 2011, the post of the head of the department remained with the Dean. From 2011 to 2013, Dr Basu came back and she claims that the same ordeal repeated itself. In the meanwhile, Dr Dave got his PhD. "Here's where the major issue happened. Using my maternity leave in 2013, the university administration manipulated and reduced my service time thus reducing my seniority. And whenever I asked for promotions, the university would find an excuse to come up with an objection so that I never become the HOD or a professor. There are letters from the Registrar's office which illustrate this fairly well — when they can't establish one objection or people resist, they just come up with a new one," she added.
The university clarified that it has taken action on Dr Nerlikar's application. "We had taken action based on Dr Nerlikar's application. We converted her leave from 'leave-without-pay' to commuted leave and earned leave on medical grounds. If she submits any further application in the future it will be considered," said the university officials.