New Delhi: At least five professors at IIT Roorkee have been accused of sexual harassment over the last 10 days. According to a news agency, two research students at the institute and a foreign scholar who had come to deliver a lecture have approached the Haridwar police with complaints.
Ridhim Agarwal, the senior superintendent of police, said that while two complaints had been received on email and phone, one student had filed a formal complaint with the station last week. In her compliant, the student had also named the director and a dean at the institute for allegedly failing to act against the professors.
The same student has alleged to mediapersons that her superior, over the last two years, harassed her “sexually and mentally” and also “used caste slurs”.
She further said that upon approaching the university’s top authorities, they only “forwarded the complaint to the women’s cell” which informed her that the supervisor will be changed but apart from that, “no action would be taken against him.”
The supervisor was then replaced with another professor who she alleged has a “reputation of touching women inappropriately”. This, she said, prompted her to approach the police.
According to Agarwal, a three-member special investigation team has been constituted to probe the issue, NDTVreported. Aggarwal has also reportedly received a message on her phone from another student at IIT Roorkee, but the latter has not filed a formal police complaint yet.
The IIT, for its part, has issued a statement saying that a few months ago, the institute received a formal complaint “from the supervising faculty for misconduct by the (research) student”. Later, the student “filed a complaint against the supervisor, which was duly investigated by the institute and the student was assigned two new supervisors”.
“The student has again requested for change of supervisor,” the statement continued.
According to NDTV, IIT-Roorkee has claimed in response to the foreign scholar’s allegations that an inquiry conducted by the Internal Complaints Committee found the complaint didn’t constitute gender-based discrimination and/or harassment.
The foreign scholar has alleged that she was sexually harassed by the professors in 2015, when she had visited IIT Roorkee to deliver a lecture.
“As we do not have the number of the foreign scholar, we have sent her an email asking her to provide more details to enable us to investigate the,” Agarwal said.
IIT Roorkee is not the first Indian higher education institution to come under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations.
Amid the raging #MeToo movement in October, similar allegations were madeagainst a professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.
At the time, Nandita Jayaraj and Aashima Dogra at The Life of Science had created a Google document to be circulated around the scientific community so victims could share their accounts anonymously.