A day after a PhD student at St Stephen’s College complained to police, levelling charges of sexual harassment against a professor, more details emerged on the case. The accused professor even threatened to “pour sulfuric acid on her if she didn’t wear a yellow sari to college”, the woman’s complaint alleges.
According to the student, the professor allegedly molested her on October 15, 2013. The student has also accused him of stalking her, passing lewd remarks and making inappropriate physical contact for months before the incident.
The alumni association of the college on Saturday demanded that the Vice-Chancellor intervene in the matter. The Association of Old Stephenians demanded that the Vice-Chancellor order a probe not only into the present case, but into all past cases of sexual harassment at the college.
The student, meanwhile, recorded her statement before a magistrate. “She was working in the lab and was the only student whose PhD thesis the accused was supervising in 2013… On October 15, he allegedly forced himself on her. Shocked, the woman managed to free herself, fled the premises and took a rickshaw to her PG accommodation,” the woman’s counsel said.
The woman said she stopped going to college after the incident, but the accused called her repeatedly, stalked her on social media and sent other students to look for her, forcing her to share her ordeal with her parents, the complaint alleges.
When the family confronted the professor, he reportedly apologised and “promised never to repeat such behaviour”, she said. But, she added, the harassment continued.
“Moreover, the accused stopped answering her queries with regard to her thesis, stopped supervising her thesis or guiding her after the incident despite having promised her parents that he would help her complete her thesis with full cooperation and goodwill,” the counsel said.
“Kumar had without her permission accessed her laptop and social media sites she was logged into in her absence. He then began commenting and passing lewd remarks on her photographs on the sites. He made her uncomfortable in the lab. He used to touch her inappropriately as well,” the counsel said.
According to the FIR, her parents took their complaint to principal Valson Thampu in December 2014, but he allegedly dismissed the issue as a “purely academic problem”. Before this, the woman had submitted a complaint to her HoD in October, 2014. The complainant alleged that Thampu gave her two options — “go to Delhi University’s grievance redressal cell and jeopardise my degree or term the issue an academic problem”.
She also accused the professor of blocking her monthly stipend of Rs 18,000 for six months from December 2014 with no explanation given to her. The stipend is cleared after the bursar, the PhD superviser and the principal sign on it.
The student then approached the grievance redressal cell, which started looking into the matter on January 15. The cell, which is yet to reveal its findings, held its last meeting on May 19.
Unhappy with the slow pace of proceedings, the student approached police on Friday.
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