The dean of students at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University has filed a First Information Report against 17 students, alleging that they assaulted and manhandled him in his office on March 12 while protesting against the university’s new attendance rules and hostel fees. Reports said Umesh Ashok Kadam lodged the complaint four days later, on March 16.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, however, alleged that the dean’s action against them was in response to the sexual harassment complaints against Professor Atul Kumar Johri. “The time and context of this fabricated first information report makes the motivated and mischievous designs of administration-Delhi Police nexus amply clear,” a statement from the students’ union said.
The students said the date of the FIR, March 16, coincided with their call for a protest at the Vasant Kunj Police Station demanding Johri’s arrest. The statement also claimed that several students spent at least five hours at the Vasant Kunj police station between March 15 and March 16 to get an FIR filed against Johri, but the “police were not willing to” file one.
Over the past week, several students have been protesting on the campus and outside the police station, demanding action against Johri. The complaints against Johri, a professor in the university’s School of Life Sciences, surfaced after one student sent him an email on March 10, and eventually filed a police complaint. Soon, other students stepped forward accusing Johri of often making remarks with sexual overtones, demanding sexual intimacy from students, commenting on their appearance and threatening them with ruining their academic careers.
Johri resigned from an administrative role on March 16.
On Tuesday, JNU Dean of Students, Kadam, told the media that his complaint against the students was solely related to the March 12 incident. “The students locked me inside my room and manhandled me,” Kadam told ANI. My senior colleagues spoke to me in a wrong manner, posters were put against me,” he said, adding that he will “follow all rules prescribed by the government regarding attendance”.
The students, however, claim they did not manhandle the dean, but were hit and assaulted by security personnel of the university. They said CCTV footage will clearly show it was the security personnel who hit students.
“Even though there is clear evidence of students being hit and women students being manhandled by male security, the Delhi Police is taking succour in targeting students,” they said. “It is highly shameful that Umesh Kadam is blatantly lying to shift the discourse away from suspension of Atul Johri by levelling of false charges.”
Meanwhile, students’ and women’s groups have planned massive protests in Delhi on Tuesday to demand action against Johri. On Monday, 54 JNU professors submitted a petition asking the police to register separate FIRs in all the eight complaints of sexual harassment against Johri.