Jadavpur Student Accused of Multiple Counts of Sexual Harassment Suspended by VC
The Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University, Suranjan Das, moved to suspend the accused Ekalavya Chaudhuri from attending college, pending an investigation by an independent probe committee into his actions. Chaudhuri, an undergraduate student of Jadavpur University Department of English, has been accused by over 21 women, including minors, of sexual harassment online and through cases of physical assault. Students were informed that an internal investigation committee will be formed to probe the case. The probe committee will function independently of the Internal Complaints Committee. Furthermore, the matter became an Arts Faculty issue after the general body meeting that was conducted by the Arts Faculty Students’ Union on the 27th of July.
Students of Jadavpur University’s Department of English had held a general body meeting on the 26th of July regarding the investigation into the alleged offences. A section of students had expressed fears that he may hold undue influence in the investigation, as he happens to be the son of a faculty member. The students had also requested that the Faculty recommend his suspension while the investigation is pending and during it, as students do not feel safe sharing a class space with him, particularly when the class includes survivors of his abuse. If the recommendation was refused, the students from the Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses had taken the collective decision to boycott classes during Ekalavya’s presence in the Department.
This was the statement that was put up by students on Facebook on Wednesday evening, the social media platform on which the survivors spoke out:
As per the AFSU GB conducted today regarding the accusations of sexual harassment by Ekalavya Chaudhury we formulated three demands and went to the VC with them. All of the demands were met.
W.r.t (sic) the suspension of Ekalavya Chaudhuri for the duration of the probe by an independent committee, the VC complied and gave the order. The order will be issued and he will be suspended with immediate effect from tomorrow till the completion of the probe (approximately 7 working days). This order will be communicated to the Board of Studies (B.o.S) of the English department (the department Ekalavya happens to study in) via the Head.
The probe committee will have an elected student representative. Initially, the GB had decided that the representative should be from the Arts Faculty but the University brought something to our notice, namely that if the verdict went against Ekalavya and was challenged in a court of law it could interpret AFSU as a party to the case and that would unnecessarily delay justice. The Head of Department, Santanu Biswas, was there and suggested that an SFSU office bearer be nominated. The survivors said that they had no issue with this and that they would rather no difficulties were created later. Therefore, either the SFSU GS or AGS will be the student representative in the committee and will report to the student body.
W.r.t (sic) the demand that [Ekalavya’s parent, as member of the Faculty] not take over as Head of Department of the English Department, the VC has said that he will speak to her tomorrow morning and ask her in his official capacity to not assume Headship.
Following the meeting on Monday, Ekalavya was seen attending class later in the day. The students staged a walk-out during the class, standing by their decision to boycott his presence.
Report by Rushati Mukherjee
Edited by Manisha.
Featured Image: Subhajit Das