Police have filed an FIR against Urmila Paralikar, in-charge principal of the Government of Maharashtra Secondary Training College, Fort, under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act following complaint by a student over alleged caste-based remarks. The FIR was filed at the Azad Maidan Police Station late on Wednesday night.
The complainant, Sumitra Mangat, a first-generation learner hailing from Khandipada, a village in Talasari Taluk of Palghar, said, “Noticing my speech and way of writing, Paralikar madam asked me about my native place and then asked if I am an Adiwasi (a tribal). She also asked if this is how teachers in schools in my village speak and if I will be teaching my students in tribal language too. She has made similar caste-based derogatory remarks on other students in my class who are from reserved category,” said Mangat.
“The teacher has been commenting on the way we dress by questioning our intention behind not wearing a ‘dupatta’. She asks if we want to attract the attention of boys by doing so. She has also asked us to change our uniform from a regular salwar or leggings to denim-jeans because apparently the former highlights the lower half of our body,” said another student, Akshada Malekar.
The issue came to light earlier this month after multiple students from the college wrote to COPS Students Organisation and National Students Union Of India (NSUI) following which the FIR was filed.
Bhushan Belnekar, Senior Police Inspector at the Azad Maidan Police Station, said, “There is no arrest yet. We are in the process of taking statements and conducting the investigation.”
When contacted, Dr Paralikar declined to comment, adding that the government procedure is going on in the matter. Director of Education Dhanraj Mane was unavailable for comment.
“The teacher has crossed all the limits,” said Faisal Shaikh, State Vice President of NSUI.
Amar Ekad, President of the COPS Students’ Organisation, who has also written to Maharashtra’s Higher and Technical Education Minister regarding the matter, said, “Notably, Paralikar was earlier removed from the principal’s charge as part of a disciplinary action by former Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant. This was in the month of February, after several staff members had submitted a written complaint to him about mental harassment by her. And yet she has been given the principal’s charge again just after three months.”
Speaking about the complaint, a staff member, on condition of anonymity, said, “In the past, when she held charge for the principal’s position, there were several instances of public humiliation of staff members – teaching as well as non-teaching. There was a very hostile work environment.” A few staff members at the college said they were shocked to see re-appointment of the same teacher as in-charge principal.