Appeals LG, Chief Justice and DGP to initiate independent inquiry
Srinagar April 16 : A PhD scholar who accused Kashmir University of obstructing the action against its faculty member accused of sexual harassment has appealed Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinah, Chief Justice JK Vinod Chatterji Koul and Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh to intervene and initiate an independent inquiry in the matter.
The press release issued by University of Kashmir on Friday regarding the sexual harassment case is misinformed, concocted and one more step to conceal the biased attitude of University besides protecting Tareek Rather accused of sexual harassment said the victim scholar in a detailed press statement to Srinagar based news agency Kashmir Dot Com, while appealing government to constitute an independent inquiry in the matter to extract the truth.
She said the University’s claims of fair and prompt investigation is punctured by its Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) recommendation report itself which says that ‘the timely intervention in the instant case has not been made despite the matter being grave, resulting in the scholar facing mental and agony’.
The ICC recommendation report has not only mentioned the delay in PhD submission but has observed the contradiction of statements on part of accused Prof Tareek Rather, which amounts to punishment under the ICC norms but the university obstructs the action as claimed earlier, it said.
“Going soft against the accused (Tareek Rather) the Internal Complaints Committee the ICC strongly directed him to strictly adhere to the gender sensitive behavior while dealing with female scholars instead of directly recommending punishment as per ICC norms” Victim alleged in a statement.
The victim states that her ordeal starts from the year 2017 when the accused professor Tareek Rather who was then her supervisor tried to assault her out of lust within the office chamber after he called her for discussing research work. “
The accused professor called me to chamber in pretext of discussing research, after entering the chamber he resorted to an inappropriate action which I reported to then (2017) chairman CCAS immediately who persuaded me to be cautious and approached the accused professor.”
“Where from I get the evidence when the incident occurred in closed door, even so some faculty members stood with the truth but university authorities ignored their version during the inquiry but emphasized the version of witness who either were subordinates to accused or were in his close camaraderie.”
“As I felt that I am being target out of reprisal after filing a criminal complaint against accused Prof. Tareek Rather, I approached all the stakeholders including National Women’s Commission, Education Ministry New Delhi, UGC and LG’s office who sought details from university about the case even NCW asked for time bound action but the university administration always tried to dismiss my situation in one or the other way to save the culprit.”
A sexual harassment victim (PhD scholar) further in her statement, reported by news agency Kashmir Dot Com said that it took university six months to follow the directions of National Women’s Commission which send off a letter bearing number D.O.No/8/C210026336/2012/NCW/RS/RR Dated12/11/2021 to Kashmir University ask over to conduct time bound inquiry however university ignored the letter till the lapse of over six months.
“A co-supervisor was assigned the job of evaluating my Phd thesis. The harassment issue was covered up by the Departmental Research Committee (DRC) composed of accused professor’s subordinates who persuaded me to remain silent (recording of conversation in hand)”.
“Later, my complaint was mishandled by the members of the DRC Committee. In furtherance, I was put under Co-supervisor to complete my thesis with the conditions that the accused supervisor will only sign the thesis. However, to my surprise, my thesis was further put before the accused supervisor who behaved inappropriately with me and intentionally refused to sign my thesis, even delayed the thesis submission in a tactful manner to set the score.”
“I approached NWC only after the accused professor continued his harmful dictations besides university authorities’ assigned co-supervisor, the accused professor didn’t sign any document and even wasted eight months of my precious time in reprisal to my complaints(NCW Letter attached Annexure A). ”The NCW directed university administration to initiate time bound action with an action taken report”, she said.
She said the university instead of handing over the case to ICC fritter away time till I approached LG’s office and have one to one meetings with the then Vice Chancellor Prof Talat Ahmed in the year 2020 and 2021 but of no avail.
“Surprisingly, There was no active Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) when I submitted my complaint. Even then I individually mailed my complaint to the members whose names including present Vice Chancellor stands were uploaded then on the university website.”
The university authorities discreetly obstructed the action by constituting a “friendly” Women’s Empowerment and Grievance Committee (WE&GC) having most of the members either close acquaintances or subordinates to the accused Tareek Rather or indirectly related to him as soon as I felt their prejudice and biased attitude I reported to NWC and Vice Chancellors office through a proper communication but the VC office instead of acting university turn deaf ears to my plea in order to make safe exit for accused professor”.
“Besides ,the WE&GC constituted by the university after 4 months of lapse following the National Women’s Commission’s directions manipulated the case by calling all the subordinates and nears of the accused professor, which goes against the ICC and Vishakha norms”
“The university authorities neither prompted nor facilitated my PhD degree till I approached Education Ministry New Delhi, UGC and Honorable Lieutenant Governor .The completion of PhD degree and sexual harassment are two separates subjects which needs not to be intermingled.” So far as the filing of complaint is concerned, I immediately approached the Chairman Central Asian Studies in the year 2016(ending) when I was harassed by the accused Professor , the chairman assured me of action, later I came to know that the accused professor had denied the directions of the chairman.
“there was no gap of three years as reported in university PR but the case was reported before chairman CCAS as per norms and when I found University administration hand in glove with the accused I preferred my studies and later started seeking justices from the year 2018.”
“Noticing that the accused professor was hell-bent on ruining my career on reprisal of the complaint I concentrated on my PHD thesis and completed it by the year 2018 and approached the accused professor he refused to check my chapters.”
“Later I approached Then VC Prof Talat Ahmed for change of supervisor who issued direction for change of supervisor but Dean Social Sciences vide his communication No: DSS/Misc/Nurgiss-CCAS/KU/20/DFSS/167 Dated: 07-10-220 assigned a co-supervisor”
“Regarding ICC, I was not provided any fair opportunity instead few members who were and still are close acquaintances of the Accused professor posed irrelevant questions during the ICC meet, even though I filed the complaint in light of the Section 468 (2) Code of Criminal Procedure Which falls within the ambit of clause (i) , clause (ii) , clause (iii) and clause (iv) of 354 (A) and pleaded ICC and honorable VC that the Evidence Act of 1872 should be followed in relation to the prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013. The whole scene was reported to VC on 14/05/2022 and later on 25-05-2022 vide communication number KU2022-VCOF-12549 dated 25/05/2022 but of no avail”
“Neither ICC nor VC office pay heed to my requests when I found that ICC rules were violated during the inquiry”, said victim, adding “feeling skepticism about the ICC inquiry I requested NCW and VC to remove few members of the ICC on 20 May 2022 but my pleas fell to deaf ears”
The Women’s Empowerment and Grievance Committee (WE&GC) expressed failure stating that it is difficult to ascertain charges in absence of evidence (No:F(complaint)Res/KU/22/dated March 31,2022) but surprisingly the ICC having majority of members of same WE&GC concluded that ‘the complaint is a matter of animosity because of non-compatibility between scholar and supervisor’
“The dubious and confusing conclusion on part of ICC is nothing but predetermined phenomenon to save the accused professor”, “The University has mentioned the non-compatibility without finding its causes; even they didn’t follow the ICC norms or prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 which I request in my complaint. The thesis was only sent for evaluation when the university administration received umpteenth directions from the LG’s office (communication in my possession), she alleged.
“Before submitting the thesis it was sent to three experts later when I submitted in May 2022 it was kept in hold till September 2022, the university only moved when I approached honorable LG who directed university authorities to ensure the submission it was after four year of struggle my thesis was sent for evaluation and degree was awarded in November 2022”
The victim stated that she was harassed, threatened and even persuaded to withdraw the complaint during the course of inquiry.
“I was threatened, harassed even asked to withdraw the complaint (recordings in possession) but I refused and didn’t budge to the threats” adding “ I was told that one of a relative of the accused professor is a notorious IPS officer but continued my fight for the justice and I hope justice will prevail someday”
“I have filed seven RTI applications to get the ICC recommendation report which I should have received immediately after inquiry was concluded by ICC but couldn’t get the same due to reasons best known to university administration”
I am appealing to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinah, Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul and DGP Police Dil Bagh Singh IPS to intervene and initiate an independent inquiry in the matter.
“So keeping all this in view I can only say that the university is still trying to save the accused professor and the so-called reputation of the university which has lost its glory to womanizers and exploiters. The university administration is lying to the people and befooling government regarding the sexual harassment case against Tareek Rather-faculty member, the statement added. (KDC)