Five professors of Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata, West Bengal, have resigned to protest against the alleged harassment of an assistant professor and racist, casteist remarks made against her, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
The professors were protesting against the lack of action against members of the students wing of the Trinamool Congress who allegedly harassed the assistant professor.
The Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad, however, denied the allegations and accused the assistant professor of threatening and harassing students. They also alleged that the professors do not hold classes regularly, PTI reported.
Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, the university’s vice chancellor, is yet to accept the resignation of the five professors, which was submitted on Monday, and has called a meeting on Wednesday.
The assistant professor of Geography, who was allegedly harassed, said in her complaint to the vice chancellor that on May 20, a group of students allegedly surrounded her in a room for nearly four hours and verbally abused her.
West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee visited the university on Tuesday and held a meeting with both the vice chancellor and some of the professors who have put in their papers.
“A probe has been ordered, and we want it to be completed at the earliest,” Chatterjee was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. “Anyone found guilty will be severely punished. What happened is a matter of serious concern and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is herself looking into the matter. We could not make contact with the victim professor. I will try and contact her and make her speak with the chief minister.”
Chatterjee said students have been asked to apologise if their behaviour made professors feel insulted.
“Such incidents should not take place in any academic institution, especially not in one named after Rabindranath Tagore,” Chaudhury said, adding that the complaints will be investigated.
Amal Kumar Mondol, head of Sanskrit department, Bankim Mondol, head of Political Science department and director of Bangladesh Study Centre and School of Languages, Bindi Shaw, head of Economics, Bharati Banerjee, head of Education, and Ashish Kumar Das, director of Ambedkar Study Centre have submitted their resignation letters.
Bankim Mondol said that the assistant professor, who was allegedly harassed, was so scared that she left her paying guest accommodation and moved to a relative’s house. “I was not present; she [professor] told us about the incident later,” he said. “She said that she had asked students to go for a review since she herself did not evaluate the copies.”
Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad leader Biswajit Dey claimed the assistant professor harassed students and threatened to destroy their careers. “She was ill-mannered,” Dey said. “There were several complaints against her by students. On that particular day, students approached her because she gave abnormally low marks in examination. No one harassed her.”
Dey said they trust the inquiry committee. “Let the truth come out.”