Published: 04th September 2023
VBU anthropology dept harassment row: President Murmu hands over matter to Chief Secretary of WB
The six students who raised their grievances against Dr Ghosh, accuse him of myriad things. These allegations include issues such as caste and gender discrimination and more
In response to a petition to the President of India Droupadi Murmu, penned by six anthropology students at Visva-Bharati University (VBU) addressing their concerns regarding Dr Arnab Ghosh, an Associate Professor in the same department, the matter has been referred to the Chief Secretary of West Bengal for investigation. These students had previously staged a one-day hunger strike on August 21, demanding action from the university regarding their complaints of caste and gender discrimination against Dr Ghosh.
Addressing mail to the Chief Secretary, HK Dwivedi, the President’s response - a screenshot of which was shared with EdexLive - states, “Attached please find for appropriate attention an e-mail petition addressed to the President of India which is self-explanatory. Action taken on the petition may please be communicated to the petitioner directly.”
The six students who raised these grievances against Dr Ghosh levied a range of accusations against him, including allegations of caste and gender discrimination, workplace harassment, psychological distress, and sexual misconduct. When EdexLive had spoken to one of the complainants earlier, on the condition of anonymity, she claimed, “As a PhD supervisor, he has only consistently hindered my thesis submission without providing any form of assistance.”
On August 18, the students sent an email to the Registrar of VBU, compiling references that documented their efforts to draw attention to the matter. These efforts included formal complaints, appeals to university officials and reaching out to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). Despite their year-long persistence, the students felt that their complaints had not received adequate attention from the disciplinary committees and the ICC. Consequently, they turned to the President of India as a final resort in their quest for resolution.
"This isn't the sole instance of VBU shielding sexual offenders. Previously, a similar leniency was extended to Prof Rajarshi Rai," claims Prof Sudipta Bhattacharya, President of the Visva Bharati Faculty Association (VBUFA). He alleges that such individuals receive protection due to the complicity of the Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty, claiming that Chakraborty himself faced punitive actions at Delhi University (DU) due to sexual harassment allegations.