This is an attempt to cover up her incompetence, says accused Benaras Hindu University official

An assistant professor at Benaras Hindu University (BHU) has lodged a police complaint against a fellow professor and six students, alleging that they had, over a period of time, sexually harassed her, and passed lewd and casteist remarks on her.

BHU Journalism and Mass Communications assistant professor S. Nerlikar, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste community, alleged that Sisir Basu, the ex-head of the department, harassed her for the last two years and instigated some male students to pass lewd remarks about her.

Both male and female students often passed casteist remarks at the professor’s instigation, she alleged.

“He [Mr. Basu] has been pressurising me to leave and when it didn’t work, [he] asked some students to harass me,” she said.

An FIR was lodged under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Attrocities) Act and Section 354 A (i) (outraging a woman’s modesty) of the IPC against Mr. Basu and six students, including three females, at the Lanka police station in Varanasi.

Ms. Nerlikar had written a complaint to chief proctor A.K. Joshi.

Mr. Basu and the accused students denied the allegations: “She has been alleging such things for the past few years now. There is no basis [to] her remarks. It is an attempt to cover up her incompetence as a teacher, which the students have been complaining of for a while now.”

Ms. Nerlikar, who made similar complaints to the varsity’s Vice-Chancellor in 2011, rejected Mr. Basu’s explanation.

“Only because I am a Dalit I am being harassed. This is a dangerous trend at BHU where harassment of women is becoming common... Now they are saying I lack credentials? For the last decade of my work they didn’t have any objections to my affidavit, how come?”

Ms. Nerlikar said the police refused to register her complaint till she sat on a dharna. No arrests have been made, police said, adding that they would initiate action once the investigations were done.

The varsity administration has set up an enquiry committee, which will probe the matter and submit its report in a month.

While the varsity’s SC/ST employee welfare committee members took out rallies demanding the arrest of the accused professor, students staged protests calling for the expulsion of the female professor for making “false allegations”.