Kerala

Dalit PhD student in MGU alleges sexual harassment

The indefinite hunger launched by a Dalit PhD student at the Mahatma Gandhi University, alleging caste discrimination, took a new turn on Wednesday when she raised allegations of sexual harassment against a fellow researcher.

The PhD student, who launched the hunger strike in front of the university entrance on October 29, told mediapersons that she had been sexually harassed by a research scholar in 2014. “A research fellow in the university, forcefully held my hand when we were about to leave the classroom. I managed to escape somehow,” she told reporters.

She alleged that though the incident was reported to Sabu Thomas, the present Vice Chancellor of the university who was then the director of the university centre, and to the joint director Nandakumar Kalarikkal, they ignored her complaint. “I will file a complaint with the District Collector soon,” she added. The woman also accused a varsity employee of misbehaving with her.

VC’s response

Mr. Thomas dismissed the allegations and said that he had never received any complaint from the student, verbally or in writing. “Though the incident is said to have happened in 2014, she never raised any complaint. Had she done that, I would have constituted an inquiry,” he said. He added that he was willing to order an inquiry in the event of a fresh complaint.

The PhD student has been protesting against the varsity authorities for alleged caste discrimination since she joined an MPhil course here in 2011. She said the problems worsened when she began her PhD at the same institution.

She said she was not allowed to enter the laboratory and faced casteist abuse from Mr. Kalarikkal. Based on her complaint, the university Syndicate had earlier initiated action against him, but he secured a favourable order from the High Court.

Though the university authorities held talks with the girl and the representatives of Dalit organisation Bhim Army on Monday, it broke down with the two parties sticking to their stance with regard to the dismissal of Mr. Kalarikkal.


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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 11:36:00 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/dalit-phd-student-in-mgu-alleges-sexual-harassment/article37326985.ece