New Delhi: Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) are on a sit-in protest against the varsity administration over revoking the suspension of Professor SK Chaube, who stands guilty of sexual harassment. Carrying placards, the students shouted slogans against the BHU administration.
The Executive Council, BHU's highest decision-making body, headed by university VC Rakesh Bhatnagar had pronounced the ‘harshest’ punishment for Professor Chaube's acts, implying censor. However, lifting his suspension and his return to classrooms has sparked a new debate on campus.
Female students had filed a complaint with the administration in October 2018 that Chaube, a professor of the Zoology department, had sexually harassed them by passing vulgar comments and making uncomfortable gestures while on a study tour to Konark Sun Temple and the Nandankanan zoological park in Odisha.
The administration took cognisance of the complaint, and VC Bhatnagar ordered an internal probe as well as an investigation by the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) of the varsity. The professor was found guilty and as a result, suspended.
However, in June 2019, the Executive Council revoked the accused academic’s suspension. The protesting girl students feel threatened with his presence back on campus and as a result, have complained about the misogyny in the varsity administration.
The varsity's administration, to quell the protests, stated that the professor was currently censored and could hold no post of responsibility.
Speaking to News18.com, BHU spokesperson Rajesh Singh said, “The suspension has been revoked but he faces the strictest form of punishment, which is censor. He can’t apply for jobs, be promoted and enjoy other achievements that come with academics.”
“It is the highest form of punishment,” he repeated.
He further said, “The decision was taken by the EC. The girls who are protesting can write to us on what else do they want, and the matter will be taken up by the EC again. Only the EC can review its decision.”
The All India Students Association (AISA) condemned the university administration's move of reinstating Chaube, and recalled the 2017 case wherein a girl student at BHU was blamed for being outside the hostel premises after 6 pm, instead of addressing her molestation complaint.
The association, in a statement, demanded that SK Chaube be suspended immediately, that all restrictive rules against female students be revoked, that the administration not interfere in inquiries in sexual harassment cases, and that an independent anti-sexual harassment cell be established.