A day after the human resource development (HRD) ministry asked Delhi University (DU) to release the stipend of the student who has alleged that she was molested by a college professor, St Stephen’s College Principal Valson Thampu on Friday claimed the cheques were ready, but the student “never bothered to collect them”. In support of his claim, he attached images of two cheques dated January 21 and March 9, 2015, in a Facebook post.
The ministry directive to DU came after CPM Politburo member Brinda Karat met HRD Minister Smriti Irani along with the complainant. After the meeting, the ministry asked DU to release the student’s stipend, give her unrestricted access to the college lab and immediately change her supervisor. The woman claims her stipend has not been released since December 2014.
On Friday, Thampu took on Karat, saying she should have “checked her facts” and that her “activism should not abort the truth”.
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“Karat has gone all the way to Irani to get the stipend of the complainant in the sexual harassment case released from St Stephen’s College. I wish she had checked the facts. I admire her activism. But activism should not abort truth,” Thampu said in his Facebook post.
“The complainant did not bother to collect the cheques and they expired. The same happened on an earlier occasion as well, when the stipend for several months was not collected by her. Then also, a complaint was aired in public that St Stephen’s was penalising her by holding back her stipend. The truth then, as now, was that she did not collect the cheque,” Thampu said.
Thampu added that a new cheque had been prepared and asked Irani to “persuade the girl to collect her cheque”. “I wonder how much of the truth is known to Irani. In place of the expired cheques, a new cheque for the full amount due to the complainant has been prepared. I appeal to the minister to persuade the complainant to come and collect it,” Thampu wrote.
However, he claimed he had received no instruction from the university about the directives issued by Irani on Thursday. “I have not received any communication. I am presenting my point on the basis of the comments of Brinda Karat reported in the media,” he told PTI.
In response, Karat said, “Thampu’s partisanship undermines the law for prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace. I am committed to the implementation of a law which was enacted precisely so that the truth of sexual harassment does not get aborted as it did in this case.”
On July 17, however, Thampu had told PTI that the cheque wasn’t prepared as it did not have her PhD guide’s signature.