A Dalit associate professor in the Hindi department at Delhi University’s Lakshmibai College has filed a police complaint as well as with the principal, alleging she was slapped by her colleague during a meeting. She has alleged the assault was due to her caste.
Dr Neelam told The Indian Express the incident took place during a meeting in the college Monday, when teacher-in-charge Ranjit Kaur allegedly slapped her after she asked to go through the minutes of the meeting. Kaur denied the allegations, saying it was “accidental, if at all”, and that it was she who was attacked.
“We had been called for a department meeting, as a National Assessment and Accreditation Council team is scheduled to visit soon. At the end, she (Kaur) asked everyone to sign the minutes. She has a history of omitting things, so I told her I will not sign without going through it. She was in a hurry to go somewhere and would not allow it. I insisted, and suddenly she slapped me in front of everyone,” Neelam alleged, adding that Kaur has “always had an issue with me because of my caste”.
“I filed a complaint at Bharat Nagar police station yesterday and also wanted to submit a complaint with the principal but she refused. Today, after pressure from teachers and activists, she has accepted it,” she said.
Anshu Jharwar, a teacher in the Hindi department, said: “There were 13 of us there; we all saw what happened. We were stunned that somebody could slap their colleague like this.”
Kaur denied the allegations and said she had filed a counter complaint with the principal: “There is no truth to this. Neelam was insisting on going through the minutes of previous meetings, including one in which she was not present. That’s when I objected. She said she would sign only after going through the minutes even if it took 3-4 hours. I had to go to the computer lab, so I tried to take the register from her but she pulled at it. During that tussle, it’s possible my hand could have hit her face. But it was not an intentional slap.”
“I even apologised immediately. But she came and grabbed me and pulled my hair. In her original complaint, there was no caste factor but now she’s playing the Dalit card to create problems for me. I’m god fearing; I have never said anything casteist in my life,” said Kaur.
Principal Pratyush Vatsala denied the allegations that she did not accept Neelam’s complaint Monday: “There’s no truth to it. I had even scheduled a meeting with both of them today to sort out the matter, but it has now become too big for any mutual resolution. I have written to her (Kaur) and asked for an explanation, and have received her complaint as well. The matter will be taken up in the next Governing Body meeting.”