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Harass finger at Visva teacher

Santiniketan, Oct. 9: A former Visva-Bharati student has complained to the vice-chancellor that she was “physically harassed” by a senior lecturer and dean of students’ welfare in his office on October 4.

A probe has been started against Siddhartha Dev Mukherjee, a senior lecturer of agricultural economics and statistics. Dev Mukherjee was today removed as dean, a varsity official said.

The teacher denied the allegations, saying it was a conspiracy against him.

Amrit Sen, a spokesperson for Visva-Bharati, said today: “We have started taking administrative steps.”

Varsity officials said the girl, who hails from Manipur, passed her MSc in agriculture from Visva-Bharati last year and had applied for PhD.

She cleared the written section of the varsity’s research eligibility test and was scheduled to appear for the interview on October 6.

The girl wrote in her complaint: “My teacher, Shri Siddhartha Dev Mukherjee, called me at 6.10pm on October 4 for some information which was required relating to my application. I refused but he insisted that I go to his office. When we were working in his office, he tried to physically harass me. I ran out.... I will not like to do my PhD here as self-respect is more important for me.”

The girl’s father, a Manipur government employee, said: “It was an unexpected behaviour from the professor. We want him to be punished.”

The chairperson of the varsity’s committee for prevention of sexual harassment, Sabujkali Sen, said: “We will call both the complainant and the accused teacher.”

Dev Mukherjee said: “The allegations levelled against me are baseless. It is a conspiracy against me. The girl insisted that I influence the interview board. I will tell everything to the varsity authorities.”