Gujarat University (GU) suspended Vasishta D Bhatt, an associate professor at the department of chemistry, on Wednesday after an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) report confirmed sexual misconduct on his part, following a departmental inquiry. All five research scholars registered under him will be transferred to other guides.
The professor was barred from entering the campus on March 25, a day after one of his research scholars alleged “heinous and lewd behaviour” by him and complained to Vice Chancellor Himanshu Pandya and GU’s Women Development Committee (WDC).
The same day, another research scholar under Prof Bhatt had complained of similar harassment by him, while, on Tuesday, a third student requested to change her guide. Among the five research scholars under him, three were girls.
“Prima facie the complaint against Vasishta D Bhatt has been proved. So, he has been suspended with immediate effect. A departmental inquiry will decide whether he is to be terminated or not,” confirmed a senior GU official.
Reacting to the university’s decision, which she was unaware of, the first complainant told The Indian Express, “If my complaint has been proved and Vasishta D Bhatt has been found guilty of heinous and lewd behavior amounting to misconduct, then he should have been terminated. We were not informed about the decision. We were just called by an ICC member and asked to sign our statements, which we had given to the committee on March 25,” she said.
The girl had also complained to the head of chemistry department on March 23, when she was allegedly advised to “save the image of the department, if possible”. But she went ahead and complained to the ICC.
After investigations, the ICC report was submitted to the university authorities on Tuesday. Following this, the executive council met on Wednesday and decided to suspend the professor.
Apprehending that he might return, the first complainant added, “He would say that he has strong connections everywhere and that no one can harm him in anyway. So, once his suspension is revoked, he is bound to return and torture me more than what I had gone through in the last two years.”
As per the girl’s complaint, the professor took her to a hotel on the pretext of having lunch on March 20 and asked her to stay with him in a room there for two hours. The complaint also mentioned “misconduct and lewd behaviour” at several occasions, including at the department and laboratory.
Based on the complaint, the ICC collected close circuit television (CCTV) camera footage of the hotel, department and laboratory, which proved her allegations.
Suggesting these incidents should not be repeated, the complainant said that there should be guidelines where the professors are not allowed to hold back students after a particular time, CCTV cameras at guide’s office and no comment by the faculty on students’ personal life.
Bhatt has been with the Gujarat University since 2017. Prior to this, he was at N V Patel College in Vallabh Vidyanagar for 12 years, which he joined after working for four years in Sardar Patel University.