Accused of sexually harassing a female student of a PU-affiliated Ludhiana college, water sports coach Deepak Kumar’s fate hangs on the complainant’s decision to choose from three remedial measures. At a meeting convened on Tuesday, the Panjab University Committee Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH) has found the coach guilty in the second complaint lodged against him by the same student.
In the previous complaint, he had apologised to her and told her that he would not repeat his actions. But the woman lodged another complaint against him in September stating that he was “stalking” her on WhatsApp and asking to “begin a relationship” with him.
Sources close to the complainant said the PUCASH has given three options to the student who was accompanied by her mother for the meeting. The first is removing the coach from his job, second is reconciliation and third is an apology. The committee has given the student time till the next meeting to decide.
However, they alleged that the complainant was being “discouraged” from taking dire action and was being “encouraged” to settle for reconciliation once again. They stated that the student had was being told that she would not get a better coach and her career in sports would get affected. Chandigarh Newsline tried reaching out to the complainant and PUCASH members, but they were unavailable for comment. Coach Deepak Kumar could also not be reached for comment.
Kanupriya, president, Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC), has supported the complainant. The complainant spoke to Kanupriya and described the matter. “I will accompany the complainant for the next meeting. It is important for students to have representation on the PUCASH when dealing with cases where they are involved,” she said.
Coach Deepak Kumar is also the general secretary of the Rugby Football Association of Chandigarh. Deepak has repeatedly not pleaded guilty and said it was a “misunderstanding” and he was only trying to “help her out”.
In her complaint to the PUCASH, the woman had also written that when she went to her mother with the issue, Deepak reached out to her and told her that the student was like his “sister”.
The university has sent Deepak on long leave till December. On November 3, PU expelled Prof Devinder Preet Singh of the dental college for sexual harassment in multiple cases. Before that, assistant professor Komal Singh of the department of public administration was also removed from service after being found guilty in multiple cases of sexual harassment.