The dental institute of Panjab University (PU) has erupted in revolt as nearly 150 students, mostly interns or fourth-year students, have called for not allowing Dr Devinder Preet Singh to join duty till the sexual harassment case is pending against him.
A fourth-year student has alleged that Dr Singh molested her on March 6 after which she filed a complaint on March 7 before the Panjab University Committee Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH). The case is pending with the committee.
As students feared that the accused was to join duty on Saturday, they met the Principal of Dr HS Judge Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Prof Jagat Bhushan, the Vice-Chancellor of the PU, Prof Arun Kumar Grover, and the Dean of University Instructions, Prof Meenakshi Malhotra, on Wednesday.
The representation, dated March 14, which bears the signatures of about 150 students, said, “We are writing this letter for seeking the much-needed help regarding the ongoing disturbing case in our institute. This is not happening for the first time, many such instances happened in the past that remained unnoticed due to fear of detention. After this incident, not only female students but their parents are also not feeling safe to send their children to the institute. In our institute, more than 90 percent of the students are female and such incidents make our workplace quite unsafe for us.”
It added, “If the person involved resumes his work, all students will not work in the department due to safety issues. Moreover, it will be a disgrace for the institute to let the person continue to work in the department.”
PU VC Arun Kumar Grover said the accused teacher would not be allowed to join duty and assured the students in this regard.
However, the Principal, Prof Jagat Bhushan, said, “I am yet to receive any instructions from the university authorities in this regard.”
Today, both the VC and the DUI visited the department along with the Dean, Students Welfare (Women), Prof Neena Caplash.
A woman intern said on condition of anonymity that the accused teacher had harassed women students in the past too. They had put up a complaint box in the institute where students could drop their complaints without mentioning their names. It is learnt that some complaints had come and had been handed over to the VC and the DUI. They are expected to be handed over to the PUCASH for further action.
“Most of the harassed women students did not complain earlier as either they used to be in the fourth year or were interns and did not want to spoil their careers,” said another woman student.
Dr Devinder Preet Singh did not pick up the phone despite repeated attempts.