Nagpur News: The wave of anger and conscientiousness that has swept the city in the aftermath of the Delhi gangrape incident seems to have left Nagpur University officials and their Vice- Chancellor untouched. Authorities in the University do not seem to have found time in months to respond complaints of sexual harassment made against their employees. Reacting against possibly the worst display of apathy by Nagpur University yet, Management Council member Dinesh Agrawal has shot off a letter to the Chancellor’s secretary in Mumbai, asking him to “tame the erring Vice Chancellor” Vilas Sapkal for turning a cold shoulder to multiple complaints of sexual harassment of University students and lecturers.
Agrawal has used a recent Times of India report about the University failing to act against former Head of the Physics Department Shyam Bhoga, despite an investigative report by a University panel declared him guilty of harassment of two PhD students. The panel had submitted its report in July. No action has been taken yet. Bhoge had demanded blank cheques from his student, abused them, refused to let them use the laboratory despite them having paid full fees, and threatened to not allow them to submit their theses. This is not an isolated incident- many PhD guides have reportedly asked their students for favours and harassed them, but complaints to the registrar and to the cureent Head of Department Sanjeev Moharil had fallen on deaf years. While the formation of this panel, and its subsequent report, provided some hope, that hope was diminished as soon as the buck was passed to Vice Chancellor Vilas Sapkal, who has shown no inclination- in six months- to give justice to harassment victims in his University.
Another case referred to by Agrawal in his complaint, is the alleged sexual harassment of a woman lecturer in Sonegaon’s Dr. Haribhau Admane College by the college Principal. The victim first approached first the college management, then Vice Chancellor and then the University’s grievance committee, but wasn’t heard. As last resort she approached the Court, which directed RTMNU to form a hitherto- nonexistent Women’s Cell and sort the issue in six months. It has been more than a year. Senior academician Dhananjay Mandlekar approached the National Council of Women (NCW) with this issue, but University authorities apparently see it fit to ignore the NCW’s queries as well.
While the response of Vikaschandra Rastogi, Secretary to the Chancellor, is awaited, one thing is abundantly clear. The safety and equality of women might be a burning issue everywhere, but Nagpur University couldn’t possibly care less about the women who work and study under it.