WARRANT OUT FOR VC ACCUSED OF MOLESTATION 

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By FROM GAJINDER SINGH in Patiala
  • Published 16.03.02
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Patiala, March 16 :    Patiala, March 16:  Nearly a month after an arts student of Punjabi University at Patiala filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment and lewd gestures against the vice-chancellor, a Patiala court has finally issued arrest warrants against the accused who has gone into hiding. The warrants were issued after police booked the vice-chancellor, Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, under sections 376 and 511 (unsuccessful attempt to rape) of the Indian Penal Code, besides the Prevention of Corruption Act. Ahluwalia has also applied for anticipatory bail in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case regarding the March 5 murderous attack on Harvinder Singh Bhatti, a reader in the university's sociology department. Police sources said the Punjabi varsity fine arts student, Saru Rana, in her statement recorded before additional chief judicial magistrate Sanjeev Berry, had alleged that Ahluwalia, through fine arts department in-charge Saroj Rani, had tried to molest here and also made lewd gestures. The student also alleged that the vice-chancellor had misbehaved with her at the reception party of his son's marriage, where she had been asked to go by Rani. At the reception, another person, Jaspal, misbehaved with her and had also passed vulgar remarks, she alleged. The magistrate has asked the police to arrest all the accused and produce them in court on March 27. Ahluwalia, however, says he has been framed. "I have made my complaint and want justice to be done," Rana said over the phone. When the complaint against Ahluwalia was filed, then Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had not shown any interest in the case. Chief minister Amrinder Singh did not make any move till two days ago, after the local media raised a hue and cry. The chief minister said the matter rested with the Governor, "but I would like to ensure justice is done". Inquiries at the university campus revealed that Ahluwalia, who is reported to be in hiding, had been running the day-to-day affairs of the university through fax messages that did not bear the originating number. The vice-chancellor's orders were being carried out though a joint action committee of university teachers, students and employees had warned the employees against implementing the vice-chancellor's orders. A student doing her Ph. D. in Punjabi drama, Inderjit Kaur, also claimed that she had been asked to visit the vice-chancellor's residence in order to "concentrate" on the topic of her research. "I had applied for the post of fellow at the university last year, following the publication of an advertisement by the university. I had two years of research work behind me and have also been writing on theatre for a newspaper. I was confident of getting the job," she said. Kaur recounted that after doing well in the interview, she received a message from the vice-chancellor through the department that he was leaving for abroad and if she wanted the job, she should come to his house to "concentrate" on the topic. The student said she did not wish to discuss anything with the vice-chancellor at his residence, and had asked him how he would feel if female members of his family were forced into a similar position. Senior police officers here said efforts were on to arrest Ahluwalia. "The arrest could be made today or tomorrow. We are narrowing our search for him and it is a matter of time now," an officer said.