Four professors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) were booked, for allegedly harassing a Dalit colleague, under the IT Act and SC ST Prevention of Atrocities Act on Sunday.
The complaint by assistant professor Subrahmanyam Saderla stated that four professors – Sanjay Mittal, Rajiv Sekhar, Chandrasekhar Upadhyay (Aerospace Department) and Ishan Sharma (Mechanics Department) did not only pass casteist remarks on Saderla soon aftter he joined the prestigious engineering institute on January 1 this year, but also challenged his mental fitness to hold the position. Saderla is one of the only four SC teachers at the IIT, and had joined the institute after a special recruitment drive for filling faculty positions reserved for SCs.
“In addition to the caste-based discrimination I have been facing at the hands of these professors since the day I joined IIT Kanpur, they have now started making random allegations about my research work. They started digging up things against my wife. I am continuously being harassed, and anonymous emails against me are doing the rounds in the institute,” The Indian Express quoted Saderla as saying.
The registration of FIR comes days after the institute took action on the accused professors after an inquiry committee headed by a retired judge revealed the allegations levelled by Saderla were true. While Mittal, Sekhar and Upadhyay were demoted, Sharma was given a strict warning.
Saderla’s long journey to justice suggests not only a hostile environment at the IITs, but also a missing support system for Dalits and Adivasis. Saderla is the one of the ONLY four SC teachers among a dominating 391 general category teachers. The annual report 2016-17 of the IIT Kanpur states that only three SC teachers were teaching at the campus, the number of ST and OBC teachers remains zero for past few years.
The hostility could further be gauged by dropouts of the students belonging to marginalised sections. An RTI reply by the institute revealed that three-fourth of expelled students, on the recommendation of academic evaluation committees, belonged to SC, OBCs and physically disabled groups. The IITs follow a system of grades where every student is evaluated on the academic performance, and if a student fails to achieve standard marks, he is expelled from the institute.
Expelled students at IIT Kanpur
Similarly, in 2015, IIT Roorki expelled 73 students citing poor academic performance from its B Tech, IMT and MSc courses – three-quarters of whom were SC/ST. After the incident, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), in its report, found that IIT administration did not any affirmative action for the students who made entry into various IITs after a rigorous examination. It stated that SC ST Cells of the institutes have been dysfunctional, and students were not aware of these cells’ existence.
Eminent mathematician Vasantha Kandasamy alleges her relentless support to Dalits students brought her in the bad books of administration, and her promotion was held for 11 years.