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Torture tag on varsity departmental head

A Jadavpur University (JU) departmental head has had a charge of physical assault slapped on him by a junior colleague of the same department.

Printing engineering lecturer Pradip Kundu has complained to JU vice-chancellor Ashok Nath Basu that his departmental head, Alok Ghosh, would “torture” him “physically and mentally” on “suspicion of my involvement in issues… against his desire”.

Kundu, accompanied by his colleagues from the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (Juta), met Basu in his office on Tuesday.

“I have told the vice-chancellor in detail about the physical and mental abuse I have suffered,” Kundu said on Wednesday. He had been a student of the department before graduating and joining the faculty.

“Since the time I was on probation (Kundu joined in December 2001), I have been suffering physically and mentally at the hands of my departmental head,” alleged Kundu.

“From threats to block my salary to insinuations against my confirmation in service, I have had to tolerate a lot to keep him (Ghosh) happy and my job intact,” he added.

Ghosh had another complaint — of harassment — levelled against him by another lecturer of the same department, Swati Banerjee, last year, as reported in Metro. “The vice-chancellor assured me and my colleagues that this matter was very serious and would be looked into,” Kundu said.

Vice-chancellor Basu has gone on leave from Thursday and will resume office next week. Ghosh is on leave too, printing engineering department officials said. “He has reported ill,” one of them added.

At home, too, Ghosh refused to take calls. “My husband is very ill and has been advised not to do anything that may aggravate his condition,” his wife told Metro. She felt that the complaint was part of a “campaign to frame him”.

“The person who lodged the complaint used to be my husband’s student… I am absolutely shocked to learn of this,” she said, mentioning that Kundu used to live with them at their Kasba residence when he was a student.

Kundu and his colleagues, however, view things from a different perspective. “The fact that the university did not take any action against him (after the earlier complaint) has emboldened him,” Juta spokesperson Tarun Naskar said. “Things have been allowed to drift, resulting in such a situation,” he added.

The most recent incident of “assault”, alleged Kundu, occurred in mid-January, the first taking place several weeks ago, in October 2002.

“I was slapped for wanting to know why he was threatening me with discontinuation of service,” he told the vice-chancellor, referring to the January episode. “Earlier, I suffered humiliation of the worst kind, as I was kicked by my former teacher,” he added.

“I kept quiet because I was afraid,” Kundu said, explaining his decision to stay mum about the earlier assault. “But things have gone too far and I will pursue this to the end,” he added.

The only previous instance of a teacher allegedly assaulting his colleague in JU occurred in the early 1980s. The teacher concerned was first suspended and then removed from service, officials pointed out.

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