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‘How Can They Suffocate Me So Much?’: Dalit Scholar at IIT-Kanpur 'Broken' by Delayed Plagiarism Probe

The case goes back to March when the senate recommended that Subrahmanyam Saderla’s thesis be revoked on charges of plagiarism, even though the academic ethics cell found no reason to do so.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:August 28, 2019, 10:25 AM IST
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‘How Can They Suffocate Me So Much?’: Dalit Scholar at IIT-Kanpur 'Broken' by Delayed Plagiarism Probe
File photo of Subrahmanyam Saderla.
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New Delhi: There seems to be no end to troubles for Subrahmanyam Saderla, a Dalit academic from IIT-Kanpur who was accused of plagiarism in March and the institute’s senate later voted to revoke his PhD thesis.

The institute had constituted a technical expert committee to look into the matter but the report reevaluating his PhD thesis and probing plagiarism charges has not yet been tabled in the IIT-Kanpur board of governors meeting. Anxious and pushed to a corner, professor Saderla wrote to the institute director on Tuesday saying he is being subjected to mental torture as the allegations have not been cleared yet.

But the trouble for Saderla, who has also complained of caste-based discrimination at the hands of four faculty members, is likely to continue as the meeting between the board of governors has postponed till further notice.

On Tuesday, Saderla wrote to IIT-Kanpur director Abhay Karandikar inquiring about the decision made in the board meeting. “I am eagerly and anxiously waiting for the same. Hope you understand the stress and the mental torture that me and my family are continuously facing on this campus,” he said in the email to the director.

In reply to Saderla’s email, Karandikar said the meeting has been postponed.

He also wrote to Koppillil Radhakrishnan, chairman, board of governors, IIT Kanpur, saying he is "broken” to learn that the meeting has been postponed. “Don't know for how long this will continue. How can someone suffocate a fellow human being to this extent?” Saderla said in the letter.

The board was expected to meet on Wednesday with Radhakrishnan, a space scientist, to discuss the reevaluation report on Saderla.

The case goes back to March when the senate recommended that Saderla’s thesis be revoked on charges of plagiarism, even though the academic ethics cell found no reason to do so.

The Dalit scholar has earlier claimed that accusations of plagiarism were motivated by his complaints of harassment and discrimination against four senior faculty members who had raised questions over his recruitment.

“The board was supposed to meet today (on Tuesday), and I was looking forward to the committee’s report. I have been told that the meeting has been postponed till further notice. This delay in getting clearance has led to more anxiety and distress. I am still facing allegations and my students will be influenced by this. I want to start a normal teaching-learning process,” Saderla told News18.

His wife Sravanthi Saderla, a project scientist in IIT, said Karandikar had told her the board would meet in June before the convocation. “We have had our convocation but nothing has been done in our case. This stagnation of proceedings is unhealthy and harassing,” she said.

News 18 tried contacting the institute director and chairman but got no response.

Dheeraj Singh, an IIT-Kanpur alumnus who has been observing the case, has written to the chairman, saying, "We understand that the review report of technical experts is in your custody since April 2019 but it has not been put before the board for four months for the reasons best known to you and director Abhay Karandikar.”

Singh observed that the board meetings to discuss the report are being “pushed repeatedly for reasons best known to you, and the director.”

Urging the chairman to show urgency in putting the speculation to rest and let the lawful process take its due course, Singh said, “Else it may seem that you are obstructing or delaying justice on the above matter. It is pertinent to know that recently high court reprimanded board of IIT-Delhi to not delay the process of justice,” Singh said.

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