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Girls went willingly: Kin

- Student tells varsity panel that she was forced to go

Jorhat, Dec. 31: The family of Dibrugarh University’s suspended assistant professor today said the two girl students had gone with him to Majuli of their own volition and one of them was to get married to him next year.

The assistant professor of anthropology, Monimugdha Choudhary, has reportedly taken the girls, both boarders, on a “study tour” to Majuli last month without the knowledge of the hostel warden.

One of the girls reportedly told an inquiry committee constituted by university vice-chancellor Alak Kumar Buragohain that she was “forced” by Choudhary to go on the trip.

Choudhary’s father, a retired teacher who did not wish to be named, told The Telegraph that his son had gone on a preparatory trip to the river island on November 2 and had returned the next day.

“My son had told me that he had a field trip in January so he had planned a preparatory trip along with a male student. He told me that the two girl students, who were staying in the university hostel, had joined him and the male student on their own and that he had not forced anybody.

“I cannot comment on the findings of the inquiry report as I have not seen it but according to what my son told me, he never forced the girl, who has now accused him, to go to the island against her will,” the father said.

He said he could not say whether the two girls had informed the hostel authorities of their visit to Majuli. If they had not, then they might have violated the discipline of the hostel.

“It is after coming back that the other girl accused my son of coercing her to go to Majuli, which is not factually correct, according to what my son told me,” the father said, adding that the girl who had not brought any such allegation against his son was engaged to Monimugdha and the ring ceremony was slated for February.

“These are stressful times for the family,” he added.

Buragohain had yesterday said Choudhary was suspended after an inquiry panel, which included a lady faculty member, found him guilty of “gross violation of code of conduct of university rules” as he had reportedly taken the two girls on a “field tour” to Majuli without the hostel warden’s knowledge.

He said the girl who had gone “consensually” had been asked to vacate the hostel as she had violated rules. The other girl had told the inquiry committee that she was “forced” by Choudhary to accompany him.

Buragohain said the newly constituted gender sensitisation and internal sexual complaints committee of the university was probing whether the case of the girl, who was allegedly coerced by Choudhary to go on the tour, was one of sexual harassment.

All attempts by this correspondent to contact the girl, whose identity remains undisclosed, on why she had not complained to the warden, her parents or any other authority before going to Majuli that she was being “forced” to go do so, proved futile.