THE INDIAN Union Muslim League (IUML), an ally of the Congress, on Wednesday disbanded the state committee of Haritha, the women’s wing of the party’s student outfit, Muslim Students’ Federation (MSF), on charges of “grave indiscipline” after some of its leaders accused their male colleagues of sexual harassment.
The IUML high power committee cracked the whip on Haritha after its leaders refused to withdraw the complaint they made to the state women’s commission last month.
IUML state general secretary P M A Salam said on Wednesday, “The party (IUML) has dissolved the state committee of Haritha. This is a grave issue of indiscipline. A committee which does not toe the line of the party can’t be allowed. A new committee of Haritha will be constituted by IUML.’’
MSF national vice-president and Haritha leader Fathima Thahiliya said, “The party’s decision is not acceptable to us. I am in touch with colleagues in the MSF and Haritha to come out with a clear stand, which will be made public in the coming days. We can’t accept the decision,’’ she said.
The issue has been simmering in the IUML for the last two months.
Three Haritha leaders had alleged that during a meeting of MSF office-bearers in June, three of their male colleagues — MSF state president P K Navas, Malappuram district president M Kabeer and district general secretary V A Wahab — allegedly made lewd remarks against them.
The Haritha leaders approached the IUML leadership, seeking that the three MSF leaders be removed from their positions, but with no action taken, on August 13, they filed a complaint with the state women’s commission.
Irked over the move, IUML retaliated by freezing the state committee of Haritha on grounds of indiscipline. The party action triggered widespread protests among Haritha members as well as several campus units of MSF.
Even as the Haritha complaint was pending before the state women’s commission, IUML last month, in an attempt to settle the issue, decided that the MSF leaders who allegedly made the objectionable remarks would express their regret on social media, and the freeze on Haritha’s state committee would be lifted.
Soon after IUML announced the “settlement”, Navas, one of the leaders in the dock, posted a message on Facebook, saying, “I have informed the party leaders that I was willing to accept any action on the issue. At the MSF meeting, I didn’t make any malicious comments. If anyone has misunderstood me or has faced any pain over my talk in the meeting, I express my regret,” he said.
However, as Haritha leaders stuck to their demand for action against the accused, the IUML decided to punish them by disbanding the state committee.
Kerala women’s commission member Shahida Kamala said the complaint of Haritha leaders was posted for the panel’s sitting in Malappuaram on September 7. “They did not appear for the sitting, citing the Covid-19 situation, and wanted to postpone the hearing to the commission’s meeting in Kozhikode next week. Due to the Nipah scare, we don’t know whether the next sitting will be possible in Kozhikode. The complaint was given by three Haritha leaders. But they said around 10 persons wanted to depose before the commission. We are ready to hear them anywhere,’’ she said.