Andhra University: Women's commission demands action against sexual harassment by prof

Gunjan Singh, a counsellor at the commission, sent an email letter to the VC, stating that action should be taken following the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act
Andhra University | Pic: AU
Andhra University | Pic: AU

The National Commission for Women has requested the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Andhra University, PVGD Prasada Reddy, to take action regarding a complaint of sexual harassment at the workplace made by a research scholar against a professor, reports The New Indian Express. Gunjan Singh, a counsellor at the commission, sent an email letter to the VC, stating that action should be taken in accordance with the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013. Singh also requested a report on the action taken within 15 days of receiving the letter.

According to the report, in the complaint filed with the chairperson of the National Commission for Women, the research scholar stated that she joined the part-time PhD programme in the Hindi department under the guidance of Professor N Satyanarayana. She claimed that Satyanarayana demanded various gifts from her during her research period. After three years, he allegedly asked for Rs 4 lakh to have her thesis written by someone else. However, she refused to pay, stating that she had almost completed her thesis. 

Just before her viva, the professor called her and demanded a bribe of Rs 2 lakh to conduct the viva. He threatened to ruin her career if she reported the matter to anyone. Finally, Satyanarayana demanded Rs 75,000 before the viva and the remaining Rs 1.25 lakh later, as she couldn't provide the Rs 2 lakh he had initially demanded. On January 11 of this year, she gave Rs. 75,000 to him, and Satyanarayana signed the thesis copies. Her husband and two friends served as witnesses, as they were present in the car.

As per her complaint, the research scholar alleged that Satyanarayana frequently touched her inappropriately by shaking hands and behaved similarly to other female scholars. He also invited her to meet him alone at various locations, which made her realise his ill intentions towards exploiting female scholars. She stated that he persistently called her for the same purpose, and she, along with other women scholars, ignored him due to their focus on their research work. She decided to file the complaint once she completed her thesis.

Satyanarayana reportedly has been continuously threatening her, stating that he would defame her husband if she did not pay the remaining Rs 1.25 lakh. Consequently, her husband lodged a complaint against the professor. The New Indian Express states that she alleged that Satyanarayana filed a case of atrocity under the SC/ST Act against her husband to tarnish his reputation, as she hadn't paid the balance of Rs 1.25 lakh. She urged Andhra University to send her thesis to a panel other than the one suggested by Satyanarayana.

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