Sunday, February 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

VC case takes new turn
Dept Head dissociates herself from PUTA
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 23
The case of alleged “harassment’’ of a girl student of Punjabi University by its Vice-Chancellor has taken a new turn with one of the accused Dr Saroj Rani, who is the Head of the Department of Fine Arts, disassociating herself from the dominant group in the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) which is championing the case of the VC.

Dr Saroj Rani, who was called to the police station today along with the other accused, including research scholar Aman and Fine Arts Department employee Jaspal Singh, disassociated themselves from a press statement released by PUTA president Dalbir Singh Dhillon. Dr Dhillon has charged the local police and its head Paramraj Singh Umranangal with harassing them after calling them to the Sadar police station.

Dr Rani told TNS that she and two other accused had been treated with due respect by the police and that she had not been harassed in any manner during the questioning.

Dr Rani’s disassociation from the statement made by Dr Dhillon today gave a turn to the controversy which arose when a Fine Arts Department student — Saru Rana — got an FIR registered against the Vice-Chancellor for making lewd gestures at her, Dr Rani and the two others.

Dr Rani said she had been summoned along with the two others and questioned about facts contained in the FIR. When questioned on the statement of Dr Dhillon, she said she had not complained to him about any harassment meted out to her and that Dr Dhillon’s statement were his personal views.

The PUTA faction under Dr Dhillon today took on the district police chief, saying that the dignity of women was being challenged by the local police at his behest. The statement released by him alleged that the “systematic harassment” proved the mala fide of the local police and that such a callous attitude towards a woman teacher was shameful and condemnable. It also urged the state police chief to intervene in the matter.

The statement also urged the Punjab State Human Rights Commission and the Punjab State Women Commission to investigate the case as a senior woman teacher and a research scholar were being “humiliated and harassed” and victimised in the police station. It said the method of investigation had also caused unrest among the girl students who were thinking of going on strike in the university against the police high-handedness.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) today claimed that members of the dominant PUTA faction were backing the VC because of the undue favours meted out to them. Forum President Amarjit Singh Dhillon said some office-bearers of PUTA had been given promotions and that the spouse of an office-bearer had also been sent abroad recently on university expense through a special scheme.

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