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Posted at: May 19, 2017, 2:38 AM; last updated: May 19, 2017, 2:38 AM (IST)

Prof accuses Senator of sexual harassment

Senate member claims innocence, resigns under ‘duress’
Prof accuses Senator of sexual harassment

Ishrat S Banwait

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18

A sexual harassment complaint against a Senator has rocked Panjab University. The Senator was allegedly pressurised to resign by the Vice-Chancellor as a condition for the complaint to be withdrawn. However, even after the Senator submitted a written resignation, the complaint was not withdrawn. The Senator then sent an application to the VC stating withdrawal of his resignation.

Three weeks ago, a professor in one of the affiliated colleges of Punjab sent a written complaint to the VC against PU Senator and head of Punjabi department at Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr Harjodh Singh. Instead of sending the complaint to the statutory body formed for the purpose, the Panjab University Committee against Sexual Harassment (PU-CASH), the VC decided to act upon it himself. Chairperson of the committee Nishtha Jaswal confirms that no one has the authority to do so and the complaint has to be forwarded to the committee. The Senator, when contacted, said he was under immense pressure to resign. He said, “It was like the VC had a revolver on my temple. I had no option other than resigning then and there.”

The complainant and the Senator were called by the VC in his office this Sunday where the latter was made to resign. He says that the complaint has not been withdrawn and he has learnt that the VC has sent it to the police instead. Harjodh says that the VC does not have power to accept his resignation and he has now written to the Chancellor to withdraw his resignation.

The complaint says that after a meeting with someone at Chandigarh, the complainant and Harjodh were going back together towards Punjab in her car. However, Harjodh took a diversion and later sexually harassed her. She said, “It is a sorry state of affairs where we have to depend on men for all our work. Women should have 33 per cent reservation in the PU.” Harjodh, on the other hand, says, “We had a fallout on the way and argued about something. The next thing I know is that a complaint has been filed against me.” He added that being a first-time Senator, he was not aware of the politics in the PU and fell prey to it.

Vice Chancellor AK Grover refused to comment on the matter. Two years ago, a similar complaint was filed against the VC by a university professor. In 2013, a sexual harassment complaint was filed by a UBS professor against the current Dean University Instruction and another professor of the department. Multiple complaints by students against university staff have figured in the past as well.

Fact file

  • Three weeks ago, a professor in one of the affiliated colleges of Punjab, sent a written complaint to the VC against the PU Senator and head of Punjabi department at Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr Harjodh Singh. 
  • Instead of sending the complaint to the statutory body formed for the purpose, the Panjab University Committee against Sexual Harassment (PU-CASH), the VC decided to act upon it himself.
  • Chairperson of the committee Nishtha Jaswal confirmed that no one has the authority to do so and the complaint has to be forwarded to the committee.

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