Indian-American Ph.D. Scholar Accuses BHU Faculty of HarassmentNRI News

December 14, 2018 16:37
Indian-American Ph.D. Scholar Accuses BHU Faculty of Harassment

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An Indian-American Ph.D. scholar has accused Banaras Hindu University's Ayurveda Head of Department Anand Chaudary of harassment and stalking over five years.

Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya, who received her doctorate in Rasa Shastra from the Faculty of Ayurveda from aforementioned university lodged a complaint with the Lanka police in Varanasi against Anand on November 22 and has claimed no First Information Report (FIR) has been registered in the case at the behest of the university.

"For the past 5 years, Mr. Anand Kr Chaudhary has threatened me using defamation, derogation, stalking and both sexual and academic harassment. In fear for my career, withstanding threats that I would not be allowed to complete my studies, I withheld complaints until I safely received my Ph.D. degree certificate today," she wrote in the complaint.

Bhaswati believes that there is pressure from the BHU on the police to not pursue the case, however, the BHU administration has denied this claim.

Bhaswati enrolled in BHU for mid-career a Ph.D. in 2014, with a senior Fulbright faculty grant. She alleges that Anand began harassing her when she started her course.

"He has tried to stop my progress in so many ways - from preventing me from attending classes and conferences to phantom violations on attendance, to sexually colored remarks about me to students in the department and faculty. He spread rumors that I had been sleeping around with other students and professors in the department," she says. Bhaswati says that Anand also stalked her. "He has also admitted over an email to faculty that he spent hours on my Facebook page trying to gather 'evidence' against me," she says.

Although she approached the university regarding the harassment in 2015, and the Vice-Chancellor passed an order that Anand must ensure Bhaswati was not denied any opportunities, the harassment has continued, she alleges. The administration enabled his abusive behavior, and it is more or less an open secret, she says.

After April 2015, the harassment - and social exclusion at the university - worsened, she says. In that month, she had filed a case after five men in the campus allegedly attempted to rape her and another colleague. The faculty saw this complaint as an attempt to defame the university, she says.

BHU Public Relations Officer Rajesh Singh, when questioned about whether it was on BHU's behest that an FIR had not been filed in Bhaswati's case, said, "See, it is the police's job to file the FIR. What role do we have to play in it? Anyone can go to the police and file a complaint, if the police find that the allegations are authentic and true, they will register an FIR."

When asked about the allegations against Anand Chaudhary, he said, "Our internal inquiry committee under the chairmanship of Institute of Medical Sciences Director, looked into the allegations made by her (Bhaswati) and has given Dr. Anand Chaudhary a clean chit."

Anand Chaudhary denied Bhaswati's allegations, "There was never any stalking or sexual harassment. Nothing was done from my side as the Head of my department which may harm her in her academic pursuits." He alleged that this complaint is a "conspiracy" by Bhaswati to sabotage his career, that she tried to work around the Ph.D. rules of BHU, and he has only worked to enforce them.

Anand added that in June 2017, Bhaswati had withdrawn her complaints against him. However, Bhaswati counters that she was forced to do that under threat that her thesis submission seminar would not be scheduled or else.

-Sowmya Sangam

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