“I guess they were looking for a reason to fire me since the day I joined,” says Abhijit Kundu, former Maths and Science teacher of a renowned school in Kolkata. Kundu was unceremoniously fired on February 5, two days after he shared copies with his colleagues of his recently-published book about being openly homosexual.
Kundu said he was told that he was being fired because the school had no vacancies for a part-time teacher. Kundu wanted a part-time job so that he could spend more time focussing on his dancing career. “They curtly told me that I possess other talents and that I should focus on them instead,” Kundu told indianexpress.com. However, Kundu maintained that this was just another instance of rampant homophobia that he was being subjected to at the school.
A few days after he joined, Kundu was apparently taken aside by the headmistress. “She told me my queer-themed short film on YouTube was making parents uncomfortable. She also told me that it was inappropriate for a teacher to have such a film in the public domain,” he said. Kundu then went on to recount the multiple instances when he was hauled up for no apparent reason.
Speaking to IndianExpress.com, he said, “In one such episode, I had just patted a student’s back and that was construed as ‘touching inappropriately’. The headmistress also told me that I had apparently asked a student which community she/he belongs to.” What Kundu questions are the timing of all the events. “I was asked to leave without a month’s notice period,” he said.
The principal of the school, Moon Moon Nath, rubbished the allegations and said Kundu himself asked to be removed as a full-timer. “We had informed him that he was going to be removed from his position. He had asked to be removed from a full-time position. Once we found his replacement, we asked him to leave,” Nath said. The principal said the school administration knew Kundu was homosexual. “I have no idea why he is saying things like this. We always knew that he is homosexual. I had come to know that Abhijit had requested his students to watch his dance videos. He was also accused of touching students inappropriately, but we did not take any action when he refused the allegations,” Bengali tabloid Ebela quoted her as saying.
However, Kundu refuted the claim. “I was not told anything about being removed as a teacher. I had a meeting with them two days before I was fired, but nothing was communicated to me at that time. I have sent a showcause notice to the school on March 18,” he claimed.
Pavan Dhall, a queer activist from Kolkata, who belongs to Varta from Varta Trust, said the incident was a reflection of the true nature of the education system. “There have been many other instances where the homophobic nature of our education system has come to light. Recently, a teacher in Bengal faced a lot of flak from her colleagues because her nephew is gay,” he said.
Atri Kar, the first transgender to appear in a civil service exam, said, “Incidents like this one and what happened in Kamala Girls School last week show that this is a fairly common situation in schools in West Bengal. The only reason things like this happen is because there is absolutely no sensitisation process that school authorities go through.”