At least 13 female students of Jadavpur University have alleged that the son of a professor at the department of English sexually harassed them online, sent them filthy text messages and even molested a few of them.
The women, who accused Ekalavya Chaudhuri, son of Chandrayee Niyogi, issued a joint statement online on Monday elaborating on their charges. They have registered an official complaint with the JU authorities as well.
“We have been touched without our consent. We have been objectified filthily. We have been made to feel like pieces of meat by a man who is utterly despicable. He believes that his actions will not yield any consequences,” the women, who are also students at the English department, said.
They also accused Janhabi Mukherjee, Eklavya’s friend and a student of Presidency University’s English department, of aiding and abetting him and harassing and intimidating them online and in person.
“Jointly, they have both used their privilege to try and keep us silent. Jointly, they have violated our bodies and our minds. Jointly, they have attempted to erase our own agency over our lives. Not anymore. Today, we speak out as survivors of these vile, poisonous human beings. Today, we take a stand against crimes against women, patriarchy, elitism, entitlement, privilege, and bullying. We take this stand to retake our agency, to re-establish the narratives that were taken from us,” they said.
“We hope that our stand will encourage others to come forward with their own experiences which they have kept silent about for whatever reasons. It’s time we all spoke up, it’s time we ripped all their masks off. Thank you for your support.”
The women also claimed to have screenshots of the lewd messages and other proof against Eklavya.
After they registered their complaint, the university asked Eklavya to stop attending classes.
“A fact-finding committee has been formed today and they will submit their report within 10 days. Pending the submission of the report, the concerned student has been asked not to attend classes. If we find enough evidence prima facie, we will then move further,” JU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das told Hindustan Times.
The varsity’s registrar Pradip Ghosh earlier said that a complaint against Eklavya in August 2015 by one of the women, who has spoken up against him again. She said Eklavya was ‘rebuked’ by their teachers before going scot-free.
When asked about the delay in taking action against a repeat offender, Das said he received a complaint only on Tuesday evening.
Reacting to Eklavya’s involvement in a similar case of sexual harassment, Das said the two incidents were different. He admitted that the culprit was the same person but denied that it has anything to do with the delayed action on the part of the administration.
More than 200 students, including 50 undergraduates and post-graduates from the English department, attended the general body meeting of the arts faculty on the campus on Wednesday evening to discuss the charges of sexual harassment against Eklavya and chalk out steps to ensure the victims got justice.
“We are apprehensive of manipulation in the investigation because the accused is the son of a professor at the same department and the professor is likely to take charge as the head of the department in another week,” an undergraduate student of the English department said.
They decided they would press for setting up of proper mechanism for redressal of complaints of sexual harassment.
Authorities have also renewed their initiative to constitute a Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) – a demand students have been raising for more than three years.
“A draft had been prepared for GSCASH and we have started sending it to all stakeholders for their opinions and suggestions,” registrar Ghosh said.
Attempts to reach Niyogi went unanswered.
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