- Gita Pandey
- BBC News, Delhi
A leading private university in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) has been embroiled in a hateful controversy in recent months.
A former assistant professor at Saint Xavier University told the BBC she was forced to quit her job for posting pictures of her in a bikini on Instagram, an allegation denied by the academic centre.
The 31-year-old woman, who asked not to be named, has accused university officials of committing a crime “Provocation Nationality “and says” I was bullied, intimidationohdeleted Moral vigilance.
She also filed a police complaint and sent a legal notice to the foundation, which responded by accusing her of defamation and demanding compensation of 990 million rupees (about $2.4 million).
They took me to the interrogation room.
The assistant professor says she joined the faculty on August 9, 2021 to teach English in undergraduate and graduate classes.
Two months later, it was He was summoned to the university president’s office for a meeting.
She was “taken to an interrogation room” where she was questioned by a panel consisting of Vice-Chancellor Felix Raj, Minister Ashish Mitra and five women.
He was informed that there is Father’s complaint against him For a first-year male university student.
“The counselor said this father found his son looking at my Instagram photos where I was only wearing my underwear. He said it was sexually explicit and asked the university to spare his son such vulgarity.”
Circular of the members of the board of directors A piece of paper had “five – six pictures” on it and she asked him to confirm that it was his picture.
Did your parents see these pictures?
The pictures he wore Two-piece swimsuit, selfies were taken in her room, He says. Share it as Stories InstagramAnd the Which means they are gone after 24 hours.
The Teachers Council did not accept his explanation: the photos were published around June 13, 2021 Two months before joining the university And before accepting the requests of his students to follow his own account.
I was shocked when I saw the pictures I had a panic attack, it sounded surreal “My personal photos were shared without my consent,” the teacher said.
“I couldn’t stand looking at my private photos, the way they were presented to me and the conversation that went on about them Made me think they were cliched. I realized they were doing me mind manipulationI’m starting to feel sabotaged.”
“They asked me why I did it. If I, as a woman, I don’t think it’s questionable. If I, as a teacher, I didn’t think it was my duty to society to act appropriately.” “Don’t you know that women have a dress code?” law Project.
“They told me I was bringing shame and disgrace to the university. They asked me if my parents were on Instagram and if they had seen those pictures. I felt sick and was in shock“.
He was asked to return the next day with a written report.
Apology and “forced resignation”
The teacher returned to the principal’s office the next day and make an apology “I wrote on the advice of some faculty members including the head of the gender unit,” a former fellow and adjunct professor who was also a member of the panel that questioned her.
“If my photos have been interpreted in a way that would discredit the university, I am sorry,” he wrote.
she was “Very unpleasant experience” He said.
He had hoped the matter would end there, but the university president told him that the board of directors had “unanimously recommended his dismissal”.
“He said The photos were already viral, and most of the students had seen them, They wouldn’t take me seriously and their parents would complain. It is better for me to resign voluntarily.”
If not, he told him he would “go to jail because the father of (the student who saw the photo) wants to file a police complaint.” The university president told her that in this case she would be arrested.
“I felt trapped, and I quit,” He carries.
“But I also felt very angry and I asked for legal advice. They downloaded my photos and took screenshots and shared them without my consent. So the lawyer suggested that I file a sexual harassment complaint with the Internet Crime Police.”
We are not asking you to resign.
Father Felix Raj, vice-chancellor of the university, declined to comment on whether the commission had recommended his dismissal, but denied all allegations against him and the university.
“We are a sacred institution of learning and knowledge. As an elder and president of the university, I told him no should Post those pictures.
However, he says, “he didn’t force her to resign and she left of her own volition.”
“She delivered a letter of apology on October 8 (2021). We accepted it. I thought it was a nice gesture. But then she sent her resignation on October 25.”
He adds that they “don’t hold a grudge against him” and that In college they were “very good with it”.
When asked about the professor’s claim that the photos were not available on her Instagram account after she joined the university and a faculty member was accused of vandalizing them, Father Happy Raj said he was “not an expert in technology”.
‘Brutal form of moral police’
It was work against the teacher Many students and alumni criticized her for being “reactionary”.
The change.org petition, initiated by former university student Gaurav Banerjee and addressed to the Minister of Education of West Bengal, has received more than 25,000 signatures.
Banerjee told the BBC she wanted the university to apologize to the professor and ask the government to take disciplinary action against the committee for its condescending behaviour.
“I am glad that he is like me, A lot of people are terrified that a university could do something like that.”detained.
Recently, dozens of college students organized a silent demonstration.
“We found out A brutal form of moral vigilance to which I have been subjected One of our teachers,” one participant told me.
“It is totally unacceptable,” he said. “Why should anyone care what I do in my private space? Our personal space should be safeguarded.”
He added, “It is frightening that the members of the committee, which included five women, did not believe that this was a moral vigil.”
The teacher said she was “overwhelmed with all the support and gratitude.”
After months of feeling bad, I feel like people see it because of the absurdity of the situation.”.
He maintains that the right to privacy and self-expression is safeguarded and granted to us under the Indian constitution and this ‘surveillance’ has extended well beyond the workplace.
“It is my firm belief that I have done nothing wrong. I may not win this, but for me it is an important battle,” he said.
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