Jadavpur University (JU) vice-chancellor Ashok Nath Basu on Thursday met printing engineering department lecturer Pradip Kundu and department head Alok Ghosh, whom Kundu charged with physical assault last week.
Another teacher, Swati Banerjee, had slapped a “sexual harassment” charge against Ghosh last year. She had complained that Ghosh blocked her salary for some months and she lost out on important and prestigious assignments outside the campus because of the harassment. No action, however, was taken against Ghosh and no explanation was forwarded by the university authorities.
The vice-chancellor’s delayed response to the assault charge follows several deputations by the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (Juta) and the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students’ Union (Fetsu). The latter’s response, officials admitted, was unexpected, as many members had put their signatures to a protest letter that listed some earlier instances of “undesirable behaviour” by Ghosh towards his students.
Fetsu representatives met senior university officials on Wednesday and demanded “exemplary action against someone who has a spate of allegations levelled against him”. One of them said: “The university authorities are shielding him, as he is related to a top-bracket JU official.”
Ghosh brushed aside the allegations made by Banerjee last year, but denied comment on the current slew of charges. He reported ill last week and did not take classes, his colleagues said, after Kundu met vice-chancellor Basu to lodge an official complaint last Wednesday.
Kundu reported two instances of his department head attacking him. “I kept quiet the first time (last October), as I thought it was a one-off incident,” said Kundu, once a student of Ghosh. “But I had no option but to report the second incident (in February) to my colleagues, who advised me to lodge an official complaint,” he told Metro.
Juta vice-president Tarun Kanti Naskar, too, accused the university authorities of trying to shield Ghosh. Officials admitted that a university teacher was first suspended and then had his job terminated for a similar misdemeanour in the early 1980s.
Vice-chancellor Basu did not want to speak about the incident, his office said. Registrar Rajat Bandyopadhyay was on leave for the day. Officials hinted it had to do with fears that Thursday’s meeting would spark off another round of agitations. Officiating registrar Subir Chakraborty offered a terse one-liner: “The matter is being looked into.”