After ragging, sexual harassment by professor haunts Goa University

April 17th, 2009 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, April 17 (IANS) A ragging case at the Goa University (GU) has taken a sordid turn with the victim - a first-year Master’s student - withdrawing her complaint, after informing the varsity officials that she was forced to file it by the head of the political science department.
Speaking to reporters, GU registrar M. M. Sangodkar confirmed that the complaint has been withdrawn and added that the political science department head, Aureliano Fernandes, was also facing sexual harassment charges.

Sangodkar said the serious sexual harassment charges have been made by the same second-year Master’s students who, interestingly, were being accused of ragging their junior.

“There are two complaints pending against Dr Fernandes, one involving sexual harassment. The other complaint was filed by a couple of girl students after Dr Fernandes gave them zero marks for a dissertation,” Dr Sangodkar said.

“In the light of these complaints, we have asked Dr Fernandes to proceed on leave until we get to the bottom of the case,” he added.

“The GU is holding an absolutely fair enquiry into the controversy. Dr Fernandes has even been asked to dissociate from pursuing both academic as well as administrative chores of the university,” Sangodkar said.

The registrar said the university has set up a committee to probe the incident in a time bound period. “Within 15 days the picture will be clear,” he said.

Meanwhile, Utt Goenkara, a civil society organisation, has claimed that there was no truth in the charges levelled against Fernandes and that he is being targeted by the same students whom he exposed for their plagiarism in their dissertation.

“The case of sexual harassment was filed by one student who had left the course midway,” John Lobo, the convener of the Utt Goenkara, told IANS.

“The issue is being diverted now. The real victims of the ragging have now been left to fend for themselves. The vested interests in the university are waging a personal battle against Dr Fernandes,” he added.

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