Sikkim University HoD removed from post following molestation allegation by student

Sikkim University
Wed, May 15, 2019

ISABELLA GURUNG
GANGTOK:
Sikkim University has removed Dr. Silajit Guha as the head of its mass communication department following allegation of molestation made against him by a university student. The Sikkim University has also, with immediate effect from Monday, banned Dr. Guha from entering the mass communication department located at Indira Bypass here.
Dr. Guha is accused to have molested the student of mass communication department on May 5. The alleged incident took place at a wedding function in Ranipool here.
The formal complaint was made on Sunday (May 12) to the Sikkim University Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The ICC deals with issues related to sexual harassment against women within the university.
“Following the complaint, the university held a meeting on Sunday and immediately forwarded the matter to ICC. The ICC held a meeting on Monday and submitted an immediate recommendation. On the basis of the recommendation, the university removed Guha from the headship of the department, divested his responsibilities (being the examiner, supervisor or evaluator of examinations), debarred him from entering the department and doubled the security within the mass communication department until evaluation by the ICC.  Further action would be taken by the university, on the basis of the report and if found guilty of the crime,” said Sikkim University registrar T.K. Kaul today to media.
The order was signed by the registrar on May 13.
“So far as the victim is concerned, we have given her full assurance of her safety and security by increasing the security of the Mass Communication department,” said Kaul.
Initially, the victim was hesitant to lodge a complaint. However, talks about the alleged incident spread in social media and support came pouring for the victim from Sikkim University Students’ Association (SUSA) and fellow students.
Following this, the victim filed a complaint with the ICC of Sikkim University on May 12.
As per the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, an Internal Complaints Committee has been constituted in all institutions and workplaces to act as inquiry authority on a complaint of sexual harassment and to take proactive measures towards sensitization of the students, staff and faculty members on gender issues, informed ICC presiding officer and Department of Sociology associate professor Dr. Swati Sachdeva.
“Until an incident is reported, we cannot take actions based on social media posts. We were waiting for the victim to speak up and ICC immediately took action on being notified by the university. In the beginning, four students had spoken out but later only one of them complained. We are hoping that other victims too will gather courage to report the matter immediately,” said Dr. Sachdeva.
Dr. Sachdeva further informed that the victim is safe and ICC will not violate her secrecy.
“The ICC will call the victim, two witnesses and the faculty members and conduct a meeting. The committee has formally sent a mail to Guha requesting him to present himself before ICC on May 28. If he fails to attend the meeting on the given date, the professor will be termed guilty and strict action will be taken against him. The university has taken the matter very seriously,” said Dr. Sachdeva.
The accused faculty head is said to have left the State without informing the university.
Meanwhile, SUSA president Palsang Tamang expressed that the association is eagerly waiting for the actions to be taken by the ICC.
“We want justice for the victim and if she is not given justice, then SUSA is ready to protest and come down to the streets. The accused has left the State without formal application to the concerned department. We want to question the university as to how he could leave the State without a formal application? We want to request everyone to not call the victim and question her regarding the incident so that she doesn’t feel insecure. We think it is the beginning of the #Metoo movement in our university. We demand justice and SUSA will fight for it. We demand the professor to be punished severely,” said Tamang.


Area: 7096 Sq Km
Capital:Gangtok
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
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