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JNU prof booked for sexual harassment

Seven students lodge complaint; accused resigns from posts

March 17, 2018 12:42 am | Updated 10:43 am IST - New Delhi

 Students of the School of Life Sciences hold a protest on Friday demanding the suspension of Professor Atul Johri.

Students of the School of Life Sciences hold a protest on Friday demanding the suspension of Professor Atul Johri.

The Delhi Police on Friday booked Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Professor Atul Johri on charges of sexual harassment after seven students approached the police on Thursday night. The police have not arrested Prof Johri but he has tendered his resignation from administrative positions.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-West) Milind Dumbere said a case has been registered under Sections 354 (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC.

He, however, added that action is yet to be taken against Prof Johri.

‘A sensitive matter’

“It’s a sensitive matter and under investigation. He will be called in for questioning,” said Mr. Dumbere.

The seven complainants approached the police after a 26-year-old research scholar left the campus, allegedly due to harassment by the professor. A missing report was filed by the scholar’s father, which was later withdrawn after she informed her parents of her whereabouts. In an email purportedly sent to Prof Johri, the woman has written that he is a “characterless person” and did not have “manners to talk to girls”.

After the scholar’s email was made public, several students from the School of Life Sciences (SLS), who had been working in Prof Johri’s lab came forward to share stories of how there is a pattern to his behaviour.

The women said the professor often “made sexually coloured remarks, openly demanded sex and commented on the figure of almost every woman. If a woman objected, he held a grudge against her and threatened to ruin her research career”.

Protests on campus

On Friday, students of SLS, members of the erstwhile gender sensitisation panel GSCASH and JNU Students’ Union representatives held protests across the campus calling for the suspension of the professor so that a fair probe can be conducted and he is prevented from intimidating the complainants.

University officials met the students of SLS and assured them that the administration will “look into their grievances through the appropriate body as per the rules/mechanism of the university”.

In the evening, the students marched to Vasant Kunj police station to demand that that professor be arrested so that he cannot further intimidate the students who have complained against him or use his position to influence the probe.

During the protests, students also brought up the issue of replacing GSCASH with the Internal Complaints Committee, a body that is not democratically-elected and comprises appointees by the administration.

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