TAMIL NADU

It's a false complaint against teachers: Students

TIRUCHI, OCT. 7. The charge of "sexual harassment", levelled against two teachers of Tiruchi Law College last week following an action initiated against 14 final-year students for their reported ragging, took a different turn yesterday, with a section of students rallying behind the two teachers.

A statement, exonerating the teachers from the charge and seeking legal action against the two girl students, who had made this "false complaint", was signed by over 200 students and faxed to the Chief Minister's Cell.

The students had expressed a deep anguish over the ordeal of the teachers, whom they called `strict disciplinarians', following the complaints made by the two girls who, they alleged, had acted at the behest of the suspended students, to "deflect the issue". The First Information Report said the two teachers had made advances against the students in the staff room and had threatened them with dire consequences, if they spoke out.

A top police official, who conducted enquiries with the staff and students, said the names of the two girl students too had figured in the list of suspended students. However, the suspension orders were not served along with the 14 students. He did not rule out the possibility of the two students having "pre-empted" their move with an ulterior motive of thwarting their suspension.

Cases were, however, booked against the teachers, first by the K.K. Nagar police, and later, by the Cantonment All Women Police, based on the version of the two girls.

In the meantime, the teachers had obtained bail in a Tiruchi court.

Enquiries with the college revealed that none of the two teachers was present in the staff room at the time mentioned in the complaint by the two students. Though the teachers and the principal were supportive of their two colleagues at the time of enquiries made by a high-level committee constituted by the Government a few days ago, they hesitated to come out in the open fearing the reported "influence" (political and otherwise) enjoyed by the punished students whose suspension was, in fact, revoked due to pressure from the police, who wanted to avoid a law and order problem.

Meanwhile, the Federation of All College Teachers' Organisations and College Employees' Organisations, Tamil Nadu (FACTOCEO), of which the Tamil Nadu Law Teachers' Association (TALTA) is a constituent, has urged the authorities concerned to take a comprehensive view of the whole issue. Any departmental action against the teachers at this juncture would set a false precedent, R. Shantharam, convener of the FACTOCEO, told presspersons here yesterday. He sought legal action against those responsible for letting the issue snowball into a controversy.