The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has asked the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, (IIT-K) to lodge a complaint against four professors for “caste-based harassment and discrimination” under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The recommendation came on Friday after a three-member panel led by APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University Vice-Chancellor Vinay Pathak and the NCSC found Dalit faculty member Subrahmanyam Saderla’s allegations of harassment at the hands of Ishan Sharma, Sanjay Mittal, Rajeev Shekhar and Chandra Shekhar Upadhyay to be true.
IIT-K Director Maninder Agarwal, who has been blamed for dragging his feet over implementing the recommendation, said it would be taken up with the institute’s board of directors and governor before a final decision is taken over their course of action. Pathak said they conducted a probe based on Saderla’s complaint. “After talking to around 20-15 people at the institute, we found the allegations to be true and made a report in the regard. He was being harassed and discriminated,” Pathak said.
According to the minutes of the April 10 NCSC hearing, Agarwal ignored the panel’s recommendations regarding action under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. It said no action had been taken to protect the Saderla’s career. Agarwal acknowledged the discrimination meted out to Saderla even as the institute was yet to file an FIR against the four. “Once there is some decision (after consulting the board of directors and governor) on the matter, the steps suggested would be taken.”
Agarwal said they had hired Saderla under a special recruitment drive for the reserved categories. “…(He) joined the IIT-K aerospace engineering department on January 1. We found that some senior faculty members started spreading (disinformation) that the new faculty member is not suitable, mentally unfit and has bad credentials… and that the recruitment was wrong.’’
Agarwal said Saderla had not been called for a departmental meeting. “They also spread some e-mails against the faculty (member) saying he is not fit to be at the IIT. There was a lot of mental harassment and he complained to me. On January 12, a fact-finding committee was formed to look into the matter. However, the harassment continued and the faculty member went to the NCSC.’’
He said the panel found the four guilty and asked the institute to take action against them. “Meanwhile the commission called me for a hearing and said that the institute did not take sufficient steps and should have taken action more proactively. The commission added that it looks like the institute is protecting the four professors and now they would give orders in the regard,” Agarwal said.