Published: 22nd March 2021
Protesting Madras University Archaeology students, including one who filed sexual harassment plaint, taken into custody
The students have been at loggerheads with the HOD over failing in their test and not being able to access their results
On Monday morning, five protesting students from the University of Madras, including a female student who complained of sexual harassment, were taken into custody by the police. The students said they are being held in a place close to the University’s women’s hostel. For the last five days, a group of students from the Archeology Department have been protesting against their HOD for manhandling them as well as behaving inappropriately with a female student in the midst of an argument. After the administration suspended the complainant and four other protesting students on Saturday night, the female student on Sunday morning allegedly attempted suicide.
The students have been at loggerheads with the HOD over failing in their test and not being able to access their results. In continuation of the issue, the students claim they confronted the HOD, “Suddenly he started manhandling us and he touched the female student inappropriately. Even though we told him that what he was doing was wrong, he continued to do it. We complained to the administration of sexual harassment but the administration has refused to take action,” one of the suspended students said. The students say that the administration has been asking them to call off the protest but are not taking action regarding the sexual harassment charges.
The female student claims that she had filed a complaint with the sexual harassment cell, “Instead of taking action, the administration ended up suspending her and us. They are saying we are causing unrest but we have been peacefully protesting. The complainant attempted suicide because the administration had chosen to suspend her for complaining,” the student said. The student was rushed to the hospital but was back at the protest site in the evening along with her parents after spending the day at the hospital.
“She is here along with us now. The police have been forcing us to call off the protest, we are insisting that the police register a complaint based on her statement but they haven’t done it. They are just asking us to leave,” a student said. Reports had said that the students were harassing the teacher because of his caste, “That is a very strange accusation because some of the students who have been suspended are also from the same Scheduled Caste. This accusation is completely untrue and we are hearing of this for the first time.”
The police were on campus on Sunday evening trying to convince the students to call off the protest and also allegedly threatening action against them. This morning the five students were detained by the police. “The VC and registrar are protecting the HOD by using the police to threaten us. Now the students are being detained and when other students tried to visit them, they were beaten up by the police,” a student said.
The students claim that they were unfairly failed in a paper by the department and were demanding that their paper be graded by professors from outside their University. The students said that the issue started in December, when their semester exams were allegedly scheduled at the same time as their internships and when they protested members of the faculty were unhappy. The students claim they were failed because of this tiff that they had with the teachers. Despite demanding their answer sheets and demanding a reevaluation, the students were not being passed in the test. Which is why the students had launched the protest.
Madras University is yet to respond to these allegations. The copy will be updated when they do.