Hours after the Ajmer police registered an FIR against the Vice-Chancellor, former vice-chancellor and other faculty members of the Central University of Rajasthan over alleged harassment of a Dalit PhD scholar, a key office bearer of the university has come out in support of the student.
Dean of Students Welfare, R L Meena, told The Indian Express that the university administration, including the Vice-Chancellor and other faculty members named in the FIR, were blatantly targeting PhD scholar Umesh Kumar Jonwal, who was expelled from the university in October last year for low attendance.
“The university administration is clearly biased against the student. On his complaint, I had issued notices to him as well as the head of his department. The student submitted solid evidence proving wrongful expulsion, based on which I submitted a 59-page report to the V-C on October 16. But there has been no action taken on it,” Meena said.
“The administration and other faculty members have colluded to fudge attendance registers in order to expel the student. I have written to the Union Ministry of HRD and University Chancellor Sam Pitroda seeking legal assistance to present my arguments in favour of the student in the High Court,” he said.
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Meena added that University administration took the decision to expel Jonwal based on an arbitrary inquiry committee report, which comprised the same faculty members who were facing the allegations.
“They did not even call me, the Dean of Students, when the decision was taken. Besides, the University ordinance 47 (2.7) invoked to expel Jonwal does not apply to PhD students,” he claimed.
According to Meena, Jonwal had approached him last year complaining that his HoD Jagdish Jadhav was demanding money from him and making him clean drains in rural areas as part of a social work project. “When I objected to it, I was abused and called names by the professor,” Jonwal told this correspondent.
When contacted, Jadhav said he did not have the relevant documents with him at the time and declined to comment further.
The Bandarsindri police station (near Ajmer where the university is located) registered the FIR on Thursday under sections 166, 191, 211, 384, 386, 409, 466, 120-B of the IPC and Section 3 of the SC/ST (prevention of atrocities act) against 8 persons, including the current and former Vice Chancellors, head of the social work department, dean (academics), chief vigilance officer among others.
The FIR was registered following a January 15 court order, which came on a complaint by Jonwal — a social work student — who alleged harassment and caste discrimination by his department head and research guide.
A Junior Research Fellow at the university, Jonwal has also challenged his expulsion from the university, and the stopping of his JRF grant in the Rajasthan High Court. The matter is listed for hearing on Wednesday next week.
While Vice-Chancellor Arun Pujari could not be reached despite several attempts, his personal secretary Ashish Gupta told The Indian Express that the university did not have a statement to make on the matter, since it was sub-judice.
Jonwal, who approached the court after the police did not register his complaint, said his research guide repeatedly asked him for money and when he refused, he was wrongfully expelled from the university.
“In November 2014, my guide asked me Rs 10,000 if I wanted to successfully complete my PhD. So I paid him. But when he asked a second time in January 2015, I refused,” he said.
Jonwal claims he was served three different notices of expulsion, one on 14th September and two more on 1st and 15th October. “All three had different dates, from which my expulsion was supposed to come into effect. They even changed entries in the attendance register to show I had been absent for months but I have original copies which prove otherwise,” he said. “I even wrote to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development twice, but got no response,” he said.