The demand for registration of separate FIRs against JNU professor Atul Kumar Johri, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment by eight women students, triggered protests outside the Vasant Kunj (North) police station on Monday. More than a hundred students from JNU gathered outside the police station, shouting “Delhi Police murdabad” and alleging that police were deliberately delaying action in the case. DCP (southwest) Milind Dumbere told The Indian Express that police have so far registered one FIR in the case. He added that police are considering filing multiple FIRs, but will first look into complaints and the statements recorded by the women.
“We have no problems registering multiple FIRs. However, we are going through the case to ascertain if it merits multiple FIRs. If the case requires multiple FIRs, we will proceed accordingly. We will also see if additional sections should be added to the FIR,” Dumbere said. Earlier in the day, 55 JNU professors had written to the police demanding registration of eight separate FIRs — one for each complaint. The DCW also sent a notice to the SHO and the JNU registrar in the matter. Police had registered the sole FIR against Johri on March 16, under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult modesty of a woman) at Vasant Kunj (North) police station.
At the time, seven other women had also registered complaints with the police. “We have added their complaints with the FIR. In the FIR, the name of the woman who was the first to approach us has been mentioned. Today, we have registered statements of four women. The legal examination is being conducted to see whether multiple FIRs need to be registered,” said a senior police officer. Police claimed they had asked Johri on Friday to join the probe on Monday, but he did not turn up for questioning. “We have issued a notice to him,” the officer said. One of the complainants who recorded her statement said, “We have pressured police to send the JNU administration and the security company orders to ensure our safety on the campus so we are not victimised.”
In the FIR, the complainant, who studied at the School of Life Sciences where Johri taught, has alleged that the professor, who was also her supervisor, would ask her uncomfortable questions about her relationships with men, make jokes with sexual undertones and comment on her body. The woman, who had joined Johri’s lab in 2013, alleged: “He used to ask me to come to his office room to discuss work… There, he used to make me sit on sofa besides him… (and) inappropriately touch my back and shoulders, always without my permission.”
The woman alleged that when she would protest, he would tell her, “come on, you are an adult”. “But I had no choice but to continue under him,” she wrote in the FIR. “After knowing what he has done to another student from my centre, I decided to file a complaint,” she alleged. Johri did not respond to calls seeking a comment. Earlier, he had told PTI that the allegations were “false and baseless”.