IIT-Kanpur’s faculty forum has passed a resolution to “divest” the institute’s deputy director and head of the its aerospace engineering department of their duties for their “conduct” in connection with the “caste-based harassment” charge against four faculty members.
The decision was taken at an emergency meeting on Monday, a day after an FIR was registered against professors Sanjay Mittal, Chandra Shekhar Upadhyay, Ishan Sharma and Rajiv Shekhar (who is now director of IIT-Dhanbad), under sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on the basis of a complaint filed by Dalit assistant professor Subrahmanyam Sadrela.
Sources in the institute said the demands of the forum were denied by the institute’s director Abhay Karandikar and a general body meeting of the forum will be held Thursday.
A letter signed by faculty forum convener Veejendra K Yadav and sent to Karandikar, the meeting was attended by 130 faculty members who expressed their “deep anguish at the lack of action by the institute after a previous resolution on the same”.
“We understand that the institute did not find any merit in the charges of harassment against four of our colleagues under the SC/ST Act. If anyone charges them under the SC/ST Act for carrying out their professional and official duties, it is the responsibility of the institute to defend them in any court or any other place.Any cost incurred by them in the past should be reimbursed by the institute, and any future legal cost incurred shall be borne by the institute,” the letter read.
“We ask the director to refer to the earlier resolution of a general body meeting which raised concern about the conduct of aerospace engineering department HoD A K Ghosh, and then officiating director (now deputy director) Manindra Agarwal for violation of official conduct rules. These officials should be divested of their official responsibilities with immediate effect. The director should also address the entire IIT-Kanpur community and apprise them of the exact charges against the four professors and the evidence recorded against them by various committees,” it further said. The forum requested all members of the community to voluntarily contribute in a “legal defence fund” for the four professors and avoid all committees of which Agarwal or Ghosh are members.
Last month, the institute’s Board of Governance (BoG) decided to demote the accused professors (except Ishan Sharma) after allegedly finding them guilty in the case and in violation of service rules. Sharma was let off with a warning. In April, a panel led by Lucknow-based APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University Vice-Chancellor Vinay Pathak and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes had found Sadrela’s allegations of harassment at the hands of the four professors to be true.