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Stephen’s molestation: DCW chief writes to Smriti Irani

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New Delhi: Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal on Friday wrote to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani seeking details of her directives to the Delhi University in connection with the St Stephen’s molestation row.

“I am personally hearing a complaint received from a St Stephen’s research scholar that she was harassed by a college professor. I understand that you had also met the complainant recently and had issued directives to DU as well as UGC to ensure that her PhD does not get affected,” Maliwal said in her letter to Irani.

“I would appreciate if you provide us with the copies of that order to help the commission in dealing with the case with greater precision and in providing relief to the complainant,” she said. The accused and the victim appeared before the DCW for the second hearing on Friday.

A research scholar at St Stephen’s had last month approached police alleging that she was sexually harassed by Chemistry professor Satish Kumar under whom she was doing her PhD. She had also accused college principal Valson Thampu of shielding the accused. She had met Irani following which the minister had directed the university to ensure that her supervisor is changed, her stipend is not withheld and she is granted unrestricted access to the laboratory. All these demands were “denied in entirety” by the accused.

Taking cognizance of the complaint submitted by the victim to DCW, the commission had summoned Thampu and the accused professor last week. While the accused had told the commission during the last hearing that the complaint against him is a fallout of his opposition to the girl’s poor performance during the research, he was asked to submit before DCW evidences of what complaints had he initiated if he was “dissatisfied” with her performance.

“He did not bring any such evidences today but assured that same will be submitted by him by next week. We have meanwhile written to Irani to examine the violation at varsity’s end,” officials at DCW said. Though the victim did not make any comments in the meeting, she has shot off another letter to DCW chief objecting to Thampu and Kumar’s statement post last hearing and inaction by police so far.

“I would like to draw your kind attention to certain disturbing aspects of the hearing held before DCW on August 19, in particular the conduct and the statements of both the Principal Thampu as well as the accused.

“They were very triumphant in their statements claiming that now with the grant of anticipatory bail by the high court in favour of Kumar they stand vindicated, this is far from the truth. I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that police investigations into this case have been very unsatisfactory,” she said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Thampu today claimed that another “conspiracy” is being hatched against him and UGC has asked him to explain his conduct.

“A lady employee of the college has been persuaded to file a complaint against me with the UGC alleging that by writing to her in 2012 that she should be found in her work place and not roam around during duty hours I have harassed her. UGC has asked me to explain my conduct,” he said in a Facebook post.

When contacted, UGC officials pleaded ignorance about Thampu’s claims.