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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Foreign student sexually harassed at IIT-K: Victim left campus on Monday, ICC still to file report

cities Updated: Sep 11, 2019 15:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

A foreign student studying at the Indian Institute of Technology - Kanpur (IIT-K) who had accused a senior faculty member there of sexual harassment left the campus on Monday, telling her friends that she would be flying back to her home country. However, according to some professors of the institute, the girl was at her country’s embassy in New Delhi, as her presence could be required during the investigation of the institute’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).

The student reportedly left the campus on the advice of officers of her embassy.

Earlier, she had reached out to her embassy with the sexual harassment complaint and officials there took up the matter with the IIT-K.

Later, the institute set up an inquiry under provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act.

Her friends at the institute told HT on Wednesday that “she was so terrified she said she would never return”.

The student was admitted at the premier institute on July 30 under an exchange programme. It is still to be seen if this incident would impact the education exchange programme with the European country from where she hails.

According to her friends, the accused professor had called her to his residence last week when he allegedly tried to molest her. The girl escaped from his house and narrated her ordeal to her friends. They said she “wept the whole night”. Later, on her friends’ suggestion, she lodged a complaint with the women’s cell of the institute, which reportedly took no action at the time.

When contacted, deputy director of the IIT-K, Professor Manindra Kumar, said that on the recommendations of the ICC, the accused “faculty member was removed from teaching responsibilities of the course in which the girl student was registered”.

He said the matter was serious and stern action would be initiated after getting the final report from the ICC. Institute officials said that the accused was likely to be sacked if found guilty.

Meanwhile, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Anant Deo, said the police would take action if the institute filed a complaint in the matter. A team of the local intelligence unit (LIU), on Deo’s directives, visited the campus on Tuesday but could not contact the IIT-K authorities as the institute was closed due to Muharram. The team again visited the campus on Wednesday to get details pertaining to the case. “We have asked the LIU to submit their findings to us,” said the SSP.

ICC to submit report in 3-4 days

The ICC inquiring into the sexual harassment allegations will take another three to four days to submit its report, said IIT-K officials. They said the committee would record the statements of the professor, the victim and all the people in whom she had confided regarding the molestation incident.

It is not clear if the victim, who left the campus on Monday evening, will appear before the committee in person or if her complaint will be treated as her statement.

The committee will submit its report to the institute director, Abhay Karindkar, who will then inform the chairman of board of governors and the ministry of human resources.

People privy to the internal probe process said, “After this, the fate of the professor concerned will be decided. The director will take a call about filing an FIR.”

When contacted, Karindkar responded in a text message, saying that the institute hadn’t taken any further action.

First Published: Sep 11, 2019 15:41 IST