Amid allegations of attempts to hush up a molestation row in St Stephen’s College, principal Valson Thampu on Saturday said he had “no tolerance for sexual offenders and the strictest punishment would be given to the guilty”.
He described himself as a “father” figure and the “preservation of dignity and security of women is his top priority”.
He rejected allegations of pressuring the victim or influencing the probe. He said it was being done with malicious intent and there was a pattern to it.
“It wasn’t for me but for the victim to approach the police over the issue. I could have raised it with the college’s internal complaints committee (ICC), which I duly did,” he said, responding to queries why the matter wasn’t reported to police when he first got the complaint.
About the audio recordings submitted to police by the complainant claiming that Thampu had pressured her to not treat the matter as that of sexual harassment, Thampu said they have been “mischievously edited”.
“I shall make no comments on the merit of the contents and how cleverly they have been manipulated, insofar as a police investigation into the case is in progress but they have being mischievously edited,” he said.
Reacting to reports that the Union HRD ministry had directed the University Grants Commission to ensure a fair probe in the matter, Thampu said: “I got to know that the HRD ministry has asked the UGC to ensure that a fair probe is conducted. I whole heartedly welcome the decision and am ready to cooperate with all agencies.”
Women organisations accused Thampu of “mishandling” the issue. “We demand immediate reassigning of the PhD supervisor and initiation of an external inquiry into the principal’s role and institutional failure to address such cases,” several women organisations, including All India Democratic Women’s Association, Centre for Struggling Women and Saheli said in a joint statement.
(With inputs from PTI)