Monday, 6 February 2017


Dear Minister,
We are a group of students who were raped, sexually harassed and abused by professors and later cornered for speaking out in SRFTI. We fought a long battle with the administration to dismiss the guilty professors from service. We won the battle when the Internal Complaints Committee for Sexual Harassment (ICCSH) found the accused professors guilty. But during the fight and after that we were humiliated and ostracized by students and faculty alike. It is no secret that the professors, the then Director Mr. Sanjaya Pattanayak, the then Chairperson Mr. Partha Ghosh were against the verdict and refused to take any action till the last minute. This fact can be verified. Partha Ghosh had refused to sign the order asking the professors to take compulsory retirement. We are writing this letter to bring to your attention to the lobbying and nexus formation in SRFTI which we think are going to directly affect us complainants.
The professors who were sent on compulsory retirement had approached the court. All of us complainant girls are party to the case since we do not trust the institute who never supported us. We know for a fact that the lawyer for the institute is not performing well. There is absolute lack of interest from the institute's part and we feel it is deliberate keeping in mind the history of complicity the institute's highest officials like the Chairperson Mr Partha Ghosh had, in the matter of sexual harassment by professors. Tomorrow, if the court asks for some documents which are readily available in the institute, the lawyer could refrain from providing them. For these people with power, denying us women our justice has become a hobby.

The girl who had complained of rape by a professor was harassed brutally by the then Chairperson, Partha Ghosh. She had written to the ministry regarding this matter. In a completely irregular manner, Partha Ghosh himself wrote back to the girl admitting to the gravely improper lecture he had administered her but at the same time claiming that the girl had 'misunderstood' him. We are attaching the copy of the same. [Kindly safeguard the identities of all female students involved in this since sexual harassment is still a matter of shame in our society]. Till this day no enquiry has been initiated on this matter. The girl went on a hunger strike demanding his resignation but was served no justice. Two officers who were taking strict measures against sexual harassment as well as corruption in SRFTI were forced to resign by the nexus we mentioned. They were Mr Anindya Acharya [ex-registrar] and Debjanjan Chakrabartty [ex-Director]. It was a matter of public knowledge that they were forced to leave SRFTI because they were unearthing many a scams involving professors and Partha Ghosh.

The duo say the institute's work culture is not conducive to do what's needed to address allegations against a certain group operating on campus. Many felt that the sexual harassment cases have exposed serious issues plaguing the institute for years.

In the past few months, sources say, Chakrabarti and Acharya haven't often been on the same page as SRFTI chairman Partha Ghose. One bone of contention was Chakrabarti's reaction to a CAG report. "The CAG sent a report in 2011-2012, pointing out arbitrary payment upgrades without following government rules. However, no action was taken," said Chakrabarti.
[This is from a newspaper report on the matter]

Partha Ghosh's son holds an illegal position in the institute's equipment acquiring board and this was pointed out several times by administrators as well as CAG. Partha Ghosh had called for a faculty meeting in which it was asked that a letter be signed saying that the girl who complained against rape was mentally unfit and was bringing disrepute to the institute by talking about it in public. We know this because the only professor who refused to sign that document, Late Mr Biren Das Sharma let us know the injustice that Partha Ghosh was doing to us complainants. Now, after one year of relentless fighting against harassment, we have a new Director who has been selected by a panel in which this misogynist was present. We are scared and worried.
When the interviews for the Director's position was going on, Sanjaya Pattanayak had called one of the candidates [out of the three] and had told him that he could start looking for other jobs because it had been finalized that the only woman candidate would be made Director. Isn't this irregular? How is it that a person knew what the selection would be way before it was finalized? The interview board had Partha Ghosh in it and like how Mr Pattanayak had predicted, the only woman candidate, Dr Debamitra Mitra was made the Director. However, while this selection process had happened many months earlier, it was only recently, that is, one week ago, that she took charge. We have been told that this comes as a boon to the sexual harassment complainants because she is a woman. Is it so sir?
A woman who was selected by Partha Ghosh who believes 'taali ek haath se nai bajti hai', and that 'We will not wash SRFTI's dirty linen (sexual harassment) in public'. A woman who was selected even before the results of the interview was out. A woman who was present when one of the complainants was spoken to in the most disrespectful manner by Secretary, I&B, Mr Ajay Mittal. [No enquiry has been initiated on this matter yet]. Two days ago, one of us was harassed by a security guard in the institute. Since we were told that the new Director being a woman works in our favour, the girl went to her to inform her about the matter. The Director told the girl, 'Come to me only after approaching the Dean and the Registrar first'. Is this the response that a woman gives a girl who has just been harassed? If this is the level of sensitivity that the Director is administering, we can imagine what her stance would be regarding the case in Kolkata High Court. We are highly apprehensive about it in the context of this appointment and we have nowhere else to go.
We hope that your intervention can change things in SRFTI and we hope for the same. If the institute so wishes, the court case can be fought with seriousness. The Director can be briefed and sensitized about the way in which to deal with sexual harassment complaints and complainants. Every day of justice denied to us is a setback for any place of learning. Kindly look into the matter and allow us women to make films and complete our courses.
a few victims and survivors.
5th February, 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment