(Trigger warning: Descriptions of sexual assault.)
(This article has been updated with the response of Hyderabad's Gachibowli Police.)
The foreign student, who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a professor from the Hindi department of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), was "scared and hesitant" to register a complaint after the incident on 2 December, recounted a student who was with the survivor later that night.
The survivor, who is pursuing her Master's in the same department of the varsity, doesn't speak Hindi or English, and is only well-versed in her mother tongue, Sabari Girija Rajan, the president of the Ambedkar Students' Association (ASA) in UoH, told The Quint.
The accused, Professor Ravi Ranjan, was arrested by the Gachibowli Police and suspended from the university on 3 December, after hours of protest by the students. He was initially charged under Sections 354 (outraging a woman's modesty) and 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code.
The police later confirmed to The Quint that Section 376 read with 511 (attempt to rape), Section 366 (kidnapping), and Section 328 (causing hurt by means of intoxication) have been added to the FIR, owing to the severity of the case.
"She was very scared. She kept saying that she wanted to change universities and didn't want to study here anymore. In broken English, she also said, 'I don't complain, he famous.' What she might have meant was that he is a powerful person and that she was afraid to complain."Sabari Girija Rajan, ASA president
'Fear, Language Barrier'
Sabari said that the foreign student joined the university only about a month ago through a fellowship offered by the Indian government. "As she needed help to study, she approached the professor after class at 4 pm yesterday (2 December)," Sabari said.
The professor reportedly said he could give her a book, which he claimed was at his place outside the university. He then took her to his house in his car. "They almost spent four hours there. He dropped her back at the Tagore International Hostel (a hostel exclusively for foreign students in the varsity) at 9:30 pm," said Sabari.
The survivor was reportedly found crying over the phone outside the hostel by two other foreign students. "She couldn't explain it to them because of the language barrier. She was also in shock. But she was on a call with one of her teachers back home. He explained to the students that she was assaulted," added Sabari.
The student was taken to the health centre on the university premises, but she was hesitant to get herself examined, according to Sabari, who was at the spot.
"She kept refusing to get herself examined, saying she was not raped. But she enacted and showed us what happened. She also typed a few sentences on her phone in her mother tongue and used Google Translate. According to the survivor, the professor hugged her, touched her inappropriately, and kissed her. She was also forced to consume alcohol."Sabari Girija Rajan, ASA president
After persuasion, she agreed to undergo a medical exam, but she was still hesitant to file a complaint, added Sabari.
Shortly after, the Gachibowli Police arrived on the campus and officials from the embassy of her home country also got in touch with the survivor, Sabari said. "The embassy officials helped get her consent to file a complaint in her mother tongue," she added.
'We Only Had Juice & Food'
Speaking to The Quint, president of UoH Students' Union, Abhishek Nandan, said that later that night, Associate Director of the Office of International Affairs at the varsity, Dr Alok Kumar Mishra, called Professor Ranjan to enquire about the allegations.
"He admitted that he took the survivor to his house, but he denied all the allegations," said Nandan, who was present when the call was made.
The Quint tried reaching out to Dr Mishra, but he was unavailable for comment. The article will be updated with his comments as and when he responds.
"The professor claimed that he and the student only had juice and some food at his place. He claimed that no alcohol was involved and that he doesn't even drink. But he kept asking if she had filed a complaint," said Sabari.
How the University Responded
"In situations like this, the university is supposed to come forward and take action against the accused. But the official concerned, who is the registrar (Dr Devesh Nigam), did not visit the survivor or take any action against the professor all night," alleged Sabari.
The students staged a protest from 10 am on 3 December, demanding action against Professor Ranjan.
"We had three demands – we wanted an FIR against him, we wanted him to be suspended, and we wanted the administration to address the student community. Once all the three demands were met, we called off the protest the same afternoon. But we will follow up and make sure justice is delivered."Abhishek Nandan, Students' Union president
The varsity, in a statement, said, "The University condemns the incident that occurred involving Prof Ravi Ranjan, Department of Hindi, and a student on December 02, 2022." It also placed him under suspension with immediate effect.
Nandan said that while he can't confirm if there are any past complaints against the professor, "this is a very serious issue and we don't intend to leave him."
Sabari added, "It was very difficult for her (the survivor). She is in a foreign land, she's only been here for one month, and she doesn't know the language. When we are boasting of being an institute of eminence, we should not be letting this happen here. Until and unless we raise our voices, nothing will happen here."