Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Jan 25:
The authorities of Odisha’s Ravenshaw University have set up a fact finding team to probe the allegations of sexual harassment and mental torture levelled by Dr Sanhita Padhi against a senior faculty member of the varsity.
The three-member team will be headed by Chairman, Council of Deans (CCD) Samarendra Mishra, and has the HOD of Psychology department Sangeeta Rath and Economics department HOD Mamata Swain as members.
“Today, the committee will have its first sitting and it will send notices to complainant. The other girl students who have been victims of sexual abuse will also be made a party to the investigations,” University Vice Chancellor Prakash Chandra Sarangi said.
A furore has been created after allegations of the sexual abuse and exploitation of scores of women students by the University male teachers by some female teachers of the institution in the private TV channel in Odisha was telecast recently.
Following which, there have been demands of the free and fair investigation into the matter from students, student leaders, politicians and faculty members of the premier institution.
According to sources, Padhi had lodged a written complaint in the university five months ago, but no action had been allegedly taken against the complainant.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee vice chairman Suresh Mahapatra has said that Ravenshaw University is a top educational institution of not only Odisha but India. There are some people trying to malign the image of the institution. If the allegations made the lady teacher are correct, then the consequences will be very severe. There should be an unbiased inquiry into the issue.
Similarly, former student leader Smruti Ranjan Dash has said that it is a dark phase in the history of the university as it has never happened that a teacher had alleged sexual abuse in the institution.
Meanwhile, students’ union president Sankalp Patnaik said that not only are the accused, but the authorities equally responsible as they have tried to suppress the complaint. There have been also previous complaints on demand of sexual favours and abuse by former students and students’ union leaders, but has fallen on deaf ears, he added.
Notably, Dr Sanhita Padhi, Reader, department of Botany, had filed a mental and sexual torture complaint against a senior professor in her department in August last year, according to a report published in Sambad recently.
Later in the day, a Congress delegation today met the Vice Chancellor of the varsity and submitted a memorandum demanding impartial probe into the incident.