After running from pillar to post for nearly three months to get justice, women lecturers of Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College, Dasuya, have seen a ray of hope as Panjab University has debarred the Mr. Balwinder Singh the Lecturer in Commerce against, whom they had accused of sexual harassment of females during his examination duty. A communiqué to this effect was sent to one of the complainants, Nargis Dhillon, former Head of English Department.
It is a moment of celebration. Five brave professors have fought for females and against female harassment. Panjab University had deputed the debauch to the college during M.A. Examination and he passed lewd comments and made objectionable gestures towards the female candidates in the hall. The college management, instead of coming to their rescue, tried to shield the visiting officer, they alleged.The complains adds that when they reported the matter to the college authorities, they were asked to ‘adjust’. They alleged that they also were asked to co-operate in helping certain students copy during the exam.
January 20, 2013. All it happened, in a college in Punjab In the Post Graduate Examination hall of G.T.B. Khalsa College. The man in question was the Mr. Balwinder Singh who was appointed Examination Superintendent of the College. His lady killing instincts comparable to that of Hardy’s Wildeve were all roused in the Post Graduate Examination hall of G.T.B. Khalsa college. Balwinder Singh, who does not deserve the name of a teacher, has harassed a lot of girl students who refused to succumb to his lusty lures. For others, who paid heed to his wiles and gave him indulgence, he was, however, a totally different man. He managed to provide the answers on their mobile phone. Female staff at Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa college for Women, Dasuya, were relentless in their fights against all these. They at first lodged a complaint to the college authority which sided with the culprit. Then they went to the National Commission for Women, New Delhi and also to the Panjab University for lodging their complaint.
The complaint to the National Commission for Women and Panjab University irked the college management and two of the lady professors were dismissed from service without any prior notice. The female professors were humiliated in front of rest of the staff and were told to “behave”. They were even threatened with a criminal case. The ad hoc teachers alleged that that they were not even given full salary. “The full amount is deposited in our accounts, but a part is then taken back in cash,” they claimed.
Principal Narinder Kaur Ghumman rebutted the charges and said that the lecturers had never submitted a written complaint to her or any other office bearer. But the complaint which was registered directly with the Deputy Registrar (Colleges), which was rejected as it had not been routed through proper channels. Confusion hath made its masterpiece when the Centre Superintendent whom the lecturers were accusing of indulging in female harassment had also lodged a complaint with the Vice- Chancellor and Controller (Examinations) against the said teachers for misbehaviour.
The most painful and unexpected thing that happened was that the Principal who is herself a woman defended the accused by saying that two of the teachers had been dismissed from service on grounds of indiscipline and no notice was required to be given as both were serving on temporary basis. Question remains why the teachers on temporary basis were suddenly dismissed and what indiscipline they had shown.
She could not give any satisfactory answer. A show- cause notice had been issued to the other three.
Justice delayed, justice denied.
So the victims who were brave enough did not bow their heads to the college authority gathered courage to approach the Prime Minister’s office and the state Governor for justice. Dr Nargis Dhillon, one of the complainants alleged that the management had withdrawn teaching work from her a day after the fact-finding team visited the college.A four- member Panjab University (PU) committee had visited the college on February 5, to inquire into the charges levelled against a centre superintendent. The Higher Education Secretary Chander Gaind, who had called the complainants and the college authorities in his office on February 8, did not proceed after certain developments. There might have been internal pressures. This kind of blatant siding with a corrupt teacher is not unusual in India but here the incident has crossed all limits of decency. The five brave teachers did not deviate from their complaint of sexual abuse on the campus.
It was the height of high-handedness. The college committee had asked one of the professors Dr. Nargis Dhillon to furnish her ingoing and outgoing call details and copies of the complaints “If the college authorities failed to deliver us justice, we had every right to invoke the intervention of other channels to get our grievances redressed,” said Dr. Nargis alleging that the college management was now very vindictive to the Hindustan Times.
Teachers had been victimised for protesting against sexual harassment at workplace which is a punishable offence now. But the authorities gave indulgence to the influential culprit and tried to muzzle the voice of the innocent teachers. The complaints were this time also submitted by the five women Assistant Professors in English, G.T.B. Khalsa College for Women, Dasuya, namely Ms. Anu Verma, Ms. Nargis Dhillon, Ms. Anu, Ms. Swanti and Ms. Harpreet, to Vice Chancellor, along with the statements submitted by the accused, College management and staff.
At last the university has taken the issue seriously, as claimed by VC Arun Kumar Grover, the NCW although the education department had been sitting over the complaints for a long time. After long delay, the Education Secretary had called the parties to his office in February, but no action had yet been taken. A four- member Panjab University (PU) committee had visited the college on February 5, to inquire into the charges levelled against a centre superintendent. However, the panel has at last submitted its report to the vice-chancellor.
The following Committee was constituted by Vice Chancellor, Panjab University, Chandigarh, vide Misc.A-&/1115 dated 24.01.13 to conduct an on the spot enquiry in the light of a complaint dated 16/01/2013 received from Ms. Anu Verma, Assistant Professor in English, G.T.B. Khalsa College for Women, Dasuya, Distt. Hoshiarpur:
1. Prof. Rajesh Gill, Fellow, Dept. of Sociology, P.U. (Chairperson)
2. Dr. Jagwant Singh, Fellow, G.G.D.S.D. College, Sector-32, Chandigarh
3. Principal Charanjit Kaur Sohi, Fellow, GGS College for Women, Chandigarh
4. Mr. Dinesh Kumar, Fellow, Dept. of Laws, P.U.
5. Sh. J.R.Dhiman, DR (Colleges) (Convener)
The Enquiry Committee held its meetings on 01.02.2013, 05.02.2013, 08.02.2013, 12.02.2013, 22.02.2013, 23.02.2013 and 25.02.2013 and tried to investigate the truth behind helping certain candidate/s in copying by Centre Superintendent, Sh. Balwinder Singh in connivance with college staff, particularly Principal Ms. Ghuman, Sh. C.S.Saini, Ms. Randhawa and Ms. Pawandeep Kaur. As alleged by Ms. Swanti dated 10.01.13, 5.02.13, Ms. Anu Verma dated 10.01.13, Dr. Nargis Dhillon dated 10.01.13, 05.02.13 and Ms. Harpreet dated 16.01.13, 5.2.13, the accused joined the said college on 12.12.12 as Centre Superintendent. From then onwards, he allegedly continued to make sexually colored remarks to the complainants.The accused wanted every now and then to indulge in whistling whenever they were passing by and due to which they felt very humiliated. According to Ms. Swanti, on one occasion, when she was wearing a pink suit, the accused said “Oye hoye, ajj tan mera pink colour di toffee khol ke khan nu ji karda”. Another complainant, Ms. Harpreet, a teacher of English, has alleged that on 18th December 2012, the accused commented when she was walking towards her room “Haye saru da boota”. The Committee took a serious note of the fact that the accused had been passing lewd comments to complainants which were reported (even if verbally) on 18.12.12 but still the college authorities sidetracked all these complaints and let the problem escalate. The repeated statements of College authorities that no such complaint, written or oral, was made to them by complainants is not correct since complainants gave written complaints dated 18/12/12 to HOD, who approached Sh. Bakhtawar Singh, office superintendent on 21/12/12 to submit a written complaint but he refused to receive it saying “one does not put such things in writing.” They had brought it to the notice of Dean, Ms. Rupinder Randhawa who in turn had immediately informed the Principal and Chairman about it. During the final interaction between the Committee and the College authorities including Dean, Principal and Management The Committee took a serious note of the fact that the accused had been passing lewd comments to complainants which were reported (even if verbally) on 18.12.12 but still the college authorities sidetracked all these complaints and let the problem escalate.
The repeated statements of College authorities that no such complaint, written or oral, was made to them by complainants is not correct since complainants gave written complaints dated 18/12/12 to HOD, who approached Sh. Bakhtawar Singh, office superintendent on 21/12/12 to submit a written complaint but he refused to receive it saying “one does not put such things in writing.” They had brought it to the notice of Dean, Ms. Rupinder Randhawa who in turn had immediately informed the Principal and Chairman about it. During the final interaction between the Committee and the College authorities including Dean, Principal and Management. When asked whether he had ever made a phone call to any of the complainants, he admitted to have made a call to Swanti from the landline in the College Office. He further said that he had called Ms. Swanti requesting her to mark answers in the books in the subject of English for one of his acquaintances. Chairperson of the Committee asked him “why did you choose to contact Swanti and not any other teacher of English”. He failed to give a satisfactory reply to this question. It is important to note that Ms. Swanti in her complaint has alleged that he had called her and asked her to spend some time with her. The Committee concluded that Sh. Balwinder Singh had been stalking Ms. Swanti during his tenure as Centre Superintendent.
Now the report is going to be published. The Committee also interacted with all the faculty members in the college. It then went to the Department of English and met the students of M.A. I and II. These students expressed a great appreciation for their teachers, especially the complainants and also submitted a written statement signed by all those present. They expressed anguish over the fact that their teachers were being harassed by college authorities for no fault of theirs. They also confided in the Committee that in all the Exams of M.A. I English, a student named Roop Kaur Bajwa had been helped by college authorities through Ms. Pawandeep, Centre Clerk and Sh. Balwinder Singh, Centre Superintendent in copying. They also stated that this student was the daughter of Ms. Surjit Kaur Bajwa, Principal of G.T.B. School, Dasuya. The Committee also recorded the written statements of Chairman, Secretary and Manager, College Management, Mali, Avtar Lal, Ms. Pawandeep Kaur, Ms. Jyoti Saini, Ms. Rupinder Gill. The Committee also spoke to Sh. Bakhtawar Singh, office superintendent in the college.
During the final interaction between the Committee and the College authorities including Dean, Principal and Management, at the end of the visit of Committee on 5.2.13, Ms. Randhawa again asserted that complainants had brought to her notice the alleged behavior of Sh. Balwinder Singh and she had brought the same to the notice of Principal and the Chairman. It is now hoped that the brave challenges of the women teachers will not go in vain. The culprits will be brought to book. Justice will not be denied.