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Probe prod into IIM shame

The State Commission for Women, Jharkhand, on Monday wrote a letter to DGP Rajeev Kumar urging him to issue special instructions for a thorough probe into the alleged sexual harassment of an IIM-Ranchi professor by her senior colleague last week.

Commission chairperson Mahua Maji said they had taking suo motu cognisance of the incident, which purportedly took place on July 24. “Since no one has approached us with a formal complaint, we are taking self-cognisance given the nature of the crime and the reputation of the institute involved. In our letter to the DGP, we have sought an inquiry into all charges and a timely report,” she told The Telegraph.

Maji added that the commission had also decided to launch its own probe. “Today, we are forming an investigation team for the purpose. It will visit the IIM campus tomorrow (Tuesday) or the day. We don’t want to work in haste as it involves a prestigious cradle and people of distinction.”

Last Thursday, a professor of human resource management at IIM-Ranchi filed an FIR at Kotwali police station against senior faculty member of operations management Sasadhar Bera for harassing and abusing her on more than one occasion including that very day, raising questions on women safety at the elite business school.

What followed in quick succession was another complaint to state HRD minister Geetashree Oraon, wherein a group of teachers and students levelled various charges against vice-president (administration) Col (retd) B.K. Nayar, including drug abuse, racism and harassment. Oraon admitted that she had received a two-page letter listing the grievances.

A senior hostel official who left the institute this May claimed that similar complaints against Nayar had been lodged with the IIM management earlier too, but the matter had been hushed up.

“Around a year and a half ago, the Union HRD ministry had initiated an inquiry, but no one knows what happened after that. Many local employees at IIM have been victims of racial slur,” he said, unwilling to be named.

Nayar denied the allegations and threatened to file defamation suits against everyone raising their voice against him.

A member of the women’s commission pointed out that all was not well at IIM-Ranchi.

“Before jumping into any conclusion, one needs to get to the bottom of things. There are questions to be answered like whether the female professor filed a complaint with the IIM’s anti-harass cell; if not, then why; if yes, why action was not taken, etc. The drug abuse charges also raise many similar questions. But, we must concede that everything isn’t going well at IIM. Why we need to find out,” she said.

Will IIM-Ranchi be able to salvage its reputation? Tell