BHU students protest suspended professor's reinstatement after sexual misconduct
Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) are protesting against the reinstatement of Professor Shail Kumar Choubey, who was suspended last year over allegations of sexual harassment. The sit-in protests erupted on Saturday night, months after the Executive Council, the varsity's highest decision-making body, revoked the Professor's suspension and censured him instead. The protestors demand that Choubey should be sacked. Here are more details.
Reportedly, Choubey, a Zoology professor, had accompanied students to a study tour to the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha last year where he allegedly made obscene gestures and vulgar comments about the idols. The students had filed a written complaint to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rakesh Bhatnagar, who ordered an Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) probe and suspended Choubey on October 24.
Notably, the ICC probed the allegations against the professor for 40 days, speaking to all students who filed the complaint, eyewitnesses, the accused, among other persons and found the allegations to be true and submitted a report to BHU in December. An ICC member told The Indian Express, that the committee clearly stated that Choubey is "a repeat offender and isn't fit to teach".
According to HT, the report that found Choubey guilty was tabled before the Executive Council, headed by VC Bhatnagar, twice: once in January, when it did not get a response from the EC, and a second time during a meeting held in June.
Now, Banaras Hindu University spokesperson Professor Rajesh Singh said Choubey was only suspended till the inquiry report came. Singh told News18, "The suspension has been revoked but he faces the strictest form of punishment, which is a censor. He can't apply for jobs, be promoted and enjoy other achievements that come with academics." Choubey was reinstated on June 7 and joined duty in July.
However, the students felt that Choubey's punishment isn't strict enough. A student told TIE, "We want Professor Choubey to be suspended and an FIR registered against him. We will continue our protest till action is taken against him." Another told The Times of India, "We feel cheated as Prof Chaubey has been allowed to take classes despite being found guilty of sexual misconduct."
Choubey, on his part, said "All allegations against me are false. These charges were leveled by a few people envious of my progress." He added, "Along with me, three other professors, two lab attendants, and a guardian also accompanied the students during the tour. I delivered my duty as a teacher and a guardian of students, to ensure the success of the academic tour."