We want justice against sexual harassment at educational institute like IIT

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I, am giving you this following information regarding sexual harassment at work place in a national level institute, IIT, Which leads to de-registration of me and my husband from the PhD programme on account of protesting the ill practice of a Professor to the woman students.

Facts in brief

After passing out M.Sc in Chemistry from University of Kalyani, West Bengal in 2010, I was selected as a Junior Research Fellow (JRF) by the Council of Science & Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt. of India through National Eligibility Test (NET) in the month of December, 2010.

I left my job in a school, which I got through West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) at my home town to pursue Ph. D and I applied to IIT Bhubaneswar to fulfil my dream to be a part of IIT. I was selected in IIT on 27.07.2011 under a Professor of School of Basic Sciences with Roll No. 11CY09003.

As per the regulation of IIT Bhubaneswar, the DAC members were assigned for me to guide me to the entire tenure of eight years of PhD programme and I started my coursework which I completed successfully with Grade Ex/A and parallely continued my research work.

At that time, I was the only female student in that Professor’s Laboratory. From the day one, I noticed some peculiarities in the behavior of the Professor towards me but he always used to say I was like his daughter. In January, 2012 two new students joined in the group. In the meantime I got married, with my colleague in November, 2012.

My husband is also from West Bengal and completed his M.Sc from University of Kalyani in 2009. He cleared Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) in 2009 and has joined as a guest lecturer at one of the degree college of West Bengal and continued up to a year or so. In the meantime, he cleared NET for Lectureship (LS) in December, 2010 and joined at National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER), Bhubaneswar as a JRF in a project sanctioned by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India in 2011. In this time, he had also published his research paper in an international journal.

He cleared NET once again in July, 2011 with all India rank 84 and was selected as JRF to pursue his PhD, sponsored by University Grants Commission (UGC), Govt. of India. He was selected as a Ph. D scholar at various national level institutes like Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER), Kolkata, IIT Bhubaneswar etc. He joined IIT Bhubaneswar under the same Professor on January, 2012 with Roll No. 11CY09007. As per the regulation of IIT Bhubaneswar DAC members were also assigned for him and he started his coursework and got excellent grade in most of the papers.

After the marriage, slowly I felt ill intention of the Professor towards me and other female students in the lab. After marriage, when that Professor came to know about my pregnancy intentionally started physical and mental torture against me and my husband- like he forced me to use staircase to go to the lab at 4th floor, which would be good for my health in that condition according to him. He started commenting on the personality like body language, speaking style etc. of my husband and according to him he was not behaving like a student, but the actual scenario was the Professor always liked to interfere in my personal life, which was not at all acceptable by a husband and he used to protest against that in a many ways.

According to the Professor he came to know about my pregnancy only before 2 months of delivery and in these advance stage of maternity, he started pressurizing me and my husband to shift near by the laboratory at Toshali Plaza, Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar in the name of convenience to research and to spend more time in laboratory especially the odd times. I was well aware about his intention and did not entertain the issue.

I took maternity leave in 2013, which was assigned for 6 months as per the Ph. D regulation of this land and also the CSIR, JRF and SRF guidelines. But after 3 months or so, the Professor that time acting as Dean R&D stopped my fellowship in the name of pending from the sponsoring agency i.e. CSIR. After stopping my fellowship, the person insisted me to join the laboratory as soon as possible before the assigned 6 months of maternity leave. It is to be mentioned that, the Professor always asked me not to apply for any type of leave to the institute as he will take care all those latter.

In absence of me the Professor started torturing my husband both physically and mentally. In the physical point of view, he asked my husband to work more as he was only the male student at that time. Most of the time, the work was not at all related to academic rather clerical or peon’s work. The actual intention of the Professor to keep all the female students in front of him to fulfil his sexual desire and to push the male student away from the laboratory or keep them busy in non-related work. It is also the fact that, the Professor suggested my husband to take divorce from me as I was a working woman and would not able to take care my family well. All these issues were making immense pressure to my husband and he was getting depressed day by day.

In this critical condition of both economical and mental, I decided to join before the tenure of maternity leave unofficially. After joining, while the Professor saw I was not able to spend more time (like morning 8 to night 8) due to my small kid, continued pressurization to stay near by the institute. But all his intention was in vain as once again I denied his desire.

When the Professor failed to keep me in front of him for his ill desire, he increased the torture on my husband and the mental and physical torture went to such an extent that in June, 2014 my husband had brain stroke and got operated in Apollo Hospital, Bhubaneswar in the age of 28.

The Professor assumed that, my husband will not be able to come back in his normal life and at that time, he started behaving like a GOD with me and assured to help in every way in absence of my husband, but the scenario changed as my husband recovered quickly and joined in the research work after only 2 months or so.

The presence of my husband was not at all entertained by the Professor and he instructed to stay him away from the other lab mates (i.e. three female students including me) in the name of good environment. The person assumed my husband will resign from the Ph.D programme but in practice he started his research work in full swing. To destruct him from his goal the Professor again started torturing my husband mentally, which had effect on his health and again he had to get admitted in Apollo Hospital Bhubaneswar on March, 2015.

I always tried to avoid interaction between my husband and the Professor as it was making harmful effect on my husband’s health. At that time, I also started to avoid the person as much as possible. The intention and the mask of the person was clear to me and my husband and we had started to complete our thesis as soon as possible to become free from the Professor

But as human cannot avoid his basic instinct, the Professor still tried to get back me as per his wish to fulfil his ill intention in many ways like to call me in the odd hours, making a registry for attendance (which was torn by him only after one month or so as me and my husband’s attendance were fully appropriate). The Professor also suggested me to take divorce from my husband and proposed to send him to Ashram. Not only this the person assured me that, he will give Rs. 10,000 monthly as I may face difficulties in day to day life due to the absence of my husband.

When all his tricks did not work, he started to blackmail me in the name of degree of my husband. Suddenly the Professor became much concerned about the work of my husband notably first time after joining since January, 2012. He clearly ventilated the message to me and later to other lab members that, he will not give degree to my husband. Even he tried to stop the semester registration of him on January, 2016 but the DAC allowed him as they did not find any problem on the research work and publications of my husband. It is to be notified that, as my husband was a UGC sponsored fellow, his supervisor i.e. the Professor, Head of the School and Dean R&D forwarded all the yearly progress reports from the beginning i.e. 2012 (on which the fund release from UGC depends) to UGC with full recommendation and satisfaction up to January 2016.

The Professor thought that, if he could able to terrorise me on my husband’s degree, I would unfold myself and will fulfil his desire but I did not follow the path and tried to get temporary leave from Ph.D programme to stay away from the person but the DAC members stopped that as they were slowly understanding the intention of the person. The DAC suggested me to submit the synopsis, which is actually the pre-Ph.D report at IIT. In the pressure of DAC, the Professor compelled to allow my synopsis, which was truly successful and appreciated by all the DAC and other students of the school in the month of June, 2016.

After the synopsis report submission as per the rule of IIT, the scholar has to submit the thesis within 60 days. I submitted my thesis to the Professor’s desk for the final correction, which he delayed intentionally and asked me to make an application to Dean Academics to extend the time of 60 days to 90 days.

During this period, the Professor wanted me to have frequent meeting with him in his office at odd hours, which I strongly denied. After that the Professor tried to create trouble to me from various aspects which reflected with the deny to sign on the registration paper of my husband on July, 2016 and conveyed the message to the Head of the School, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Bhubaneswar that, he will not sign the thesis of my husband in any circumstances.

The harassment of the person towards me and my family reached such an extent that I was perforced to lodge complain to the National Women Commission (NCW), Odisha State Women Commission (OSCW), Women Grievance and Redressal Committee (WGRC) and Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) IIT, Bhubaneswar. But IIT found suitable to investigate the matter by ICC only where not even a single person was up to the rank of Professor and the investigation was proceed keeping the accused person in his influential position.

In the meantime, the head of the school rather stopping the Professor’s intention to take revenge by destroying the career of my husband and to make a woman to unfold herself in front of him, called a meeting with the DAC, me and my husband. In the meeting, the Head of the school proposed my husband to leave IIT Bhubaneswar with all his work, he did till date, which was strongly denied by me and my husband as he spent 4 vital years of his career at IIT and completed his coursework and research work with requisite number of publications and fully prepared to submit his thesis. The head of the school after not getting the answer as per the wish of the Professor, kept the case in hold and later forwarded to Dean Academics.

After number of queries from my husband in August, 2016 the Dean Academics asked him to submit the detailed research report for judgment of status of the thesis. However, it was totally illegal as the tenure of Ph.D at IIT is 8 years and there is no point of asking report after 4.5 years in the Ph.D regulation of the institute.

Parallely, the Professor found serious problem in my thesis and asked me to take more data. However, in this regard the person sometimes commented, (i) I had the data but intentionally not submitting and (ii) I did not work up to the extent to get degree from IIT, Bhubaneswar etc. Which totally made the DAC, myself and others stunned and they called number of meetings between each other and in one of this meeting with the DAC and Dean Faculty Planning of IIT Bhubaneswar, I was called and the meeting was recorded where each of the members clearly got the actual picture about the false information provided by the Professor on my thesis and as a result my other DAC members resigned from the DAC post on the issue of un-ethical behavior of the Supervisor.

In October, 2016 my husband was intimated that, the case of my husband was forwarded to Research Programme Evaluation Committee (RPEC), IIT Bhubaneswar and from there, it was forwarded to senate and senate have decided to cancel the registration of the scholar. My husband was directly intimated by the office order of cancellation of Ph.D registration on Feb,2017 without any prior notice.

Finally after 10 months or so IIT authority asked me to do semester registration under the accused person, which was not at all accepted due to the sexual harassment as expressed to NCW and other committees. I also forwarded my concern about a full time Govt. employee (as I got a Govt. job at that time) cannot do registration in any full time course and as per the norms of Ph.D Regulation of IIT Bhubaneswar also if the student get any job during his/her Ph.D tenure, and if he/she wants, he/she may be allowed for temporary leave for maximum 12 months, which I applied in the month of December, 2016. But all the applications were in vain.

It is again to submit that, in spite of me and my husband’s sincere desire to change the Supervisor before the higher authorities, IIT did not take any action. Ultimately, as a measure punishment to raise objection against the Professor, both me and my husband became victim of the Professor and IIT. Without changing him as Supervisor IIT cancelled the PhD registration of mine also on June, 2017, as I could not satisfy undesirable desire of the Supervisor, which is not acceptable for any female student. As expected IIT did not find the person to be guilty and gave the clean chit to NCW and OSCW, where I applied to get justice. However repeatedly I conveyed my message to the committees on the unfair investigation.

The behavior of the Professor to a woman, couple of bright students and finally to a family harm the society and this land in many ways. Like-

1. both of us cleared the national eligibility test and enjoyed the fellowship from the sponsoring authority which is actually the tax paid money of the billions people of this land.

2. Our country missed two PhD degrees although the Govt. paid us the necessary stipend to use our brain in research which is the only way to keep forward our country worldwide.

3. It is a warning condition on the increment of suicidal tendency of the IITians on which our Govt. always expressed serious concern.

4. In the history of IIT Bhubaneswar it is already written any female student, faculty or stuff anytime can be molested or sexually harassed by the powerful persons and if any type of protest arise that will be kept quiet by the co-operative initiation of all the administrators.

 

This issue is intimated till date with-

1. To the Prime Minister of India through letter and grievance in PG portal.

2. Ministry of Human Resources (MHRD) through letter and mail.

3. Ministry of Women & Child Development (MoWCD)

4. Chief Minister of Odisha.

5. Chief Minister of West Bengal.

6. National Commission for Women (NCW).

7. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

8. Odisha State Women Commission.

9. The Director & Deans of other IIT’s in this land.

10. Council of Science & Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt. of India.

11. University Grants Commission (UGC), Govt. of India.

12. The Board of Governors, IIT Bhubaneswar.

13. Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), IIT Bhubaneswar

14. Women Grievance and Redressal Committee (WGRC), IIT Bhubaneswar.

 

All the information obtained till date from IIT Bhubaneswar by number of petition through RTI Act, 2005.

 

My Appeal to the IIT Bhubaneswar:

1. The case of sexual harassment must be re-investigated as I am not at all satisfied with the outcome of ICC. The intention and capability of ICC to give proper justice was cleared to me on the 1st meeting with the ICC where one of the ICC member terrorized me on account of complaining to ICC.

2. IIT has to give the Ph.D degree to me and my husband without any hassle by making a neutral panel of referee and judge the thesis accordingly.

3. The person must be kicked out from any important post like Dean, Head of the School etc. of the institute like IIT where a number of good students are coming to fulfil their dreams to be a part of IIT and be a graduate from IIT. This type of person is not only a black spot of IIT but also harming the future generation in the field of science and technology. And it is also dis-couraging to the female students to join the institutes like IIT, Bhubaneswar.

4. It needs a stringent and exemplary action by IIT Bhubaneswar, which will be an example to other stuffs not to dare to take advance for sexual harassment at IIT Bhubaneswar and to damage the name and fame of the new born baby in Odisha i.e. IIT, Bhubaneswar.

The Internal Committee of IIT, Bhubaneswar did not follow the Principle of Natural Justice read with Doctrine of Audi Alterem Partem and with opportunity of being heard as well as Doctrine of Legitimate Expectation.

Even, if, the Professor is not punished till date by way of termination his service by the IIT, Bhubaneswar, and changing the Supervisor of my and my husband in time after allegation as per Rule-8 & 9 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013.

Even, if, the Professor of IIT, Bhubaneswar is liable to be punished u/s-354 IPC. Here the Professor is liable to be punished u/s-354 IPC as amended till date.

It will be my earnest request to all of you not only to help a woman to get proper justice for her and her family against the sexual harassment and also unethical practices going on by the administration of an international level institute of our country i.e. IIT Bhubaneswar by enlighting the issue nationwide.



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