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Elite IIM under harass & drug cloud

Allegations of sexual harassment and reports of drug abuse are holding IIM-Ranchi’s reputation to ransom.

While a female professor has levelled charges of immoral behaviour against a male colleague, a group of teachers and students have sought HRD minister Geetashree Oraon’s intervention into use of stimulants on campus.

On July 24, an FIR was lodged against Sasadhar Bera, a senior faculty member of operations management, for allegedly harassing and verbally abusing a professor of human resource management on more than one occasion.

Kotwali police station in-charge Arvind Sinha said that though prima facie, it appeared to be a case of “verbal altercation between two parties over some issue”, they had slapped Sections 354A and 509 of the IPC on Bera. While the first section directly pertains to sexual harassment, the latter deals with any word, gesture or act intended to outrage the modesty of a woman.

Police, however, are yet to question Bera or the IIM-Ranchi management to begin formal investigations. “We will do the same very soon,” Sinha added.

Neither professor could be contacted because the B-school management refused to share their co-ordinates. “It is a sensitive issue, so we can’t help you. Our media cell will soon come up with formal statements,” said a representative of IIM. The Telegraph has dropped emails to both the professors’ official IDs, but replies are awaited.

The cradle has, however, taken strong objection to reports of drug abuse, involving an unnamed professor, which was published in a vernacular daily on Sunday. “It is completely false. And if it were true, we too are curious who the perpetrator is,” said an IIM official.

HRD minister Oraon, on her part, conceded that “everything doesn’t seem well” at IIM-R. “Two female professors and some students had met me a day ago with a litany of complaints, including use of drugs, sexual harassment by some officials, demand of undue favours and irregularities of other kinds. The complainants also said that in a year about a dozen professors were either terminated or their contracts not renewed because they weren’t party to whims and fancies of some senior administrative officials,” she said.

So, is the minister willing to intervene in the matters of an autonomous school directly under the Union HRD ministry? “I have sought a complaint in writing. I will see how we can go about things,” Oraon added.

IIM-R’s officiating director Binay Bhushan Chakrabarti told The Telegraph from Calcutta that the management wasn’t aware of any of these grievances. “We all came to know about it from local newspapers. I am out of town and will look into the matter tomorrow (Monday),” he said.

He added: “We have cells for grievances of students, female employees and faculty members. The professor who claims to have faced harassment should have reported the matter. As far as irregularities or drug abuse is concerned, the management hasn’t received any formal complaint either.”

The state women’s commission is expected to take suo motu cognisance of both cases on Monday. “The developments are disturbing. Tomorrow, we will send notices to the IIM management, seeking explanations, after which we will begin our own probe,” said chairperson Mahua Maji.