Published: 23rd August 2023
VBU: Students protesting against harassment allegations receive no response. To file FIR next?
The women allege that they would file an FIR with the police station if the Visva-Bharati University fails to act on it
A central university located amidst a bucolic setting warrants nothing more but peace, yet, it has been blanketed in a grim atmosphere for a while now. Cases of sexual harassment are on the rise in the university and that too by the educators, who have been teaching at the university for a long period of time.
On August 21, Monday, five female students from the Department of Anthropology of the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan staged a hunger strike expressing their agitation against their supervisor Dr Arnab Ghosh, an Associate Professor with the university, who has allegedly been discriminating against these students due to their caste and gender. Not only this, the women also allege that Ghosh has been sexually harassing them, leading to extreme psychological affliction for them.
EdexLive spoke to one of the women and received the information that despite their continual pleas and a day-long protest, the authority has not responded and there has been no clarity regarding the university's stance on if they would address their issue. “The Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) looked into the matter, and amongst us, three women were called two months ago. It has also been proven that Prof Ghosh was, in fact, found guilty, but here we are, still protesting,” the student shared.
She further added that it has been three years since she had enrolled for the PhD course but as of yet, her research work is at a standstill due to zero assistance from Ghosh. “I am enrolled as a part-time scholar with the department and I simultaneously work at a college. I was pressurised to drop my work and join as a full-time scholar, which, of course, is not deemed necessary given the UGC (University Grants Commission) norms,” she claims. The harassment came in the form of verbal threats as well, alleges the student. She also claimed that she was mentally harassed by Prof Arnab Ghosh as he used to threaten her by saying that he would ruin her career and would not let her work anymore.
Another student, who is also a victim of a similar display of harassment, commented on the alleged malfunctioning of the university, claiming that there are people working internally who help sweep such matters under the rug. Speaking about a fellow colleague, who is also a victim and was part of the hunger strike, she claims, “She was also summoned by the ICC and her case was transferred to the proctor. A proctor handles disciplinary matters and not that of sexual harassment!”
When asked what would be their course of action next, she replied that they would be forced to file an FIR against Prof Arnab Ghosh if their grievances were not acknowledged on time.
This is not the first time a case such as this has come to the surface. Two other professors, Rajarshi Roy from the Education Department and Prasanta Kumar Ghosh from the Department of Rabindra Sangit, Dance and Drama, wherein, both were found guilty of molesting their Dalit female students and making their academic journey as research scholars and students difficult. Despite the ICC acknowledging the matter, no reports have been released by the university and the professors continue to teach at the university without any hindrances.