Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 13:
A three-member investigation committee of Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) today started a departmental inquiry into the sexual harassment allegation against an assistant professor of Basic Science College here.
The committee members met and questioned the victim students who recently accused the professor of sodomy.
The committee has decided to go ahead with the investigation though the professor continues to be on leave and on the run. They will speak to the students and faculty members till April 15 to arrive at a conclusion on the professor’s conduct in the case and submit their report to the Vice Chancellor on April 20.
It may be noted that the professor was earlier served a notice by college authorities and was asked to cooperate with the investigation. The departmental committee was supposed to question the students first, the professor separately next and follow it up with a combined questioning.
In the meanwhile, new revelations keep coming to the fore about the once all-powerful and politically well-connected assistant professor, who also was the chief controller of examination and adviser to the students’ union among many other hats he wore on different occasions.
He not only lured the students to have sex with him by buying them dinners at expensive hotels, taking them on drives in his car, but also by misusing his powers as examination controller by arranging them safe seats to facilitate cheating in the examination. He allegedly used to leak out the seat details on WhatsApp to his favorite students a night before the examination, which is against the rule.
He also encouraged his students to address him as ‘Bhai’ (brother) instead of ‘Sir’, used to send messages with sexual content on WhatsApp and has been accused of sharing nude photos of the students he harassed.
There is a big question mark on the effectiveness of the inquiry done in the absence of the professor. Also there have been attempts to influence the inquiry as the students have been receiving threatening phone calls from unknown numbers and outside pressure is being exerted upon them to withdraw the case.
The students suspect the university authorities of trying to cover up the case in order to protect the reputation of the university and have threatened to approach the police, should there be no justice.