After the Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata failed to take action against students who harassed an assistant professor over her caste and skin colour, five professors of the university submitted their resignations as a sign of protest.
The university's vice-chancellor, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, is yet to accept the resignations and has called for a meeting with the professors on Wednesday, June 19.
On May 20, a group of students had cornered the professor in a room for almost four hours and kept taunting her, making fun of her and spewing verbal abuses regarding her caste and skin colour.
However, Trinamool Congress's student wing president, Chattra Parishad, denied that the students had verbally abused the teacher but said that the teacher was harsh and had allegedly threatened and harassed the students.
"A probe has been ordered, and we want it to be completed at the earliest. Anyone found guilty will be severely punished. What happened is a matter of serious concern and Chief Minister Mam ata Banerjee is herself looking into the matter. We could not make contact with the victim professor. I will try and contact her and make her speak with the Chief Minister," State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee was quoted as saying by Indian Express.
Chatterjee had met the professors and the V-C on Tuesday to try and come to a consensus. "I have told the students that if their behaviour made professors feel insulted, they should immediately apologise," Chatterjee had added.
One of the accused students said that did not harass her but asked her why they got so low marks in their test. The teacher in question joined the university as an assistant professor of Geography in September. She hails from Jalpaiguri in north Bengal and studied in Benaras Hindu University and Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
The incident took place on May 20 and she filed a complaint to the university authorities on May 23 after which a committee was formed to investigate the incident.
Many professors had stepped up to talk about the incident condemn the way the teacher was treated, first as a woman and as a teacher. However, TMCP maintained that the teacher was harassing the students.
TMCP's Biswajit Dey said, "We trust the probe committee. Let the truth come out. The lady professor used to harass students and threatened to destroy their careers. She was ill-mannered. There were several complaints against her by students. On that particular day, students approached her because she gave abnormally low marks in the examination. No one harassed her."
He added, "The students were agitating and protesting for a long time against private tuition offered by professors, and against the hiring of guest lecturers by HoDs. We also demanded biometric attendance for professors, who are irregular."