NEW DELHI: Demanding the immediate arrest of a professor who has been accused of sexual harassment, students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) today marched to the local police station.
Although a First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against the professor, students complain that the university administration is protecting the accused by not taking immediate action against him.
Seven students registered a complaint against Professor Atul Johari, of JNU’s School of Life Sciences, on March 15. Later, two more students filed charges of sexual harassment.
Students have been demanding the professor’s suspension and arrest since then, but no action has been taken yet.
A student delegation that met authorities at the Vasant Kunj police station today said they were assured that nine FIRs will be filed and non-bailable charges like criminal intimidation added.
“The JNU Vice Chancellor is saying there are only a few complainants, tell us how many complaints you need to take action,” asked Preeti Uma Rao, a research scholar at the School of Life Sciences. “Even one complainant of sexual harassment is enough.”
Neither the JNU administration nor Prof Johari has made a statement. While the JNU teachers association has called for a fair probe, at least 55 professors of the university have written to the Delhi Police demanding that they register nine FIRs and prevent the accused professor from contacting and intimidating students.
“How will these students feel safe unless this professor is suspended?” said Aditya Mukherjee, a professor at JNU.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has backed the protest by students, asking why the accused has not been arrested.
“JNU matter of sexual assault of 9 girls is extremely shocking. The man appears to be a serial offender. Even more shocking is the fact that Delhi Police is yet to arrest the accused. DCW is issuing notices in the matter. We are in support of the brave complainants,” tweeted DCW chief Swati Jai Hind.
The present complaints appear to indicate a pattern of sexual assault, the commission said in a notice to the JNU administration, seeking to know what safeguards have been taken to ensure the safety & security of the complainants.
The commission has also sent a notice to the police, asking why the accused had not been arrested.