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JNU Admin Mum on Johri, Students Under Pressure to Withdraw FIRs

“If we don’t speak up now, the situation will not change,” say students who have accused a prof of sexual harassment

Updated
India
3 min read
File photo of JNU students demanding suspension of professor Atul Johri of the School of Life Sciences over sexual harassment allegations.
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The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration is mum despite eight sexual harassment complaints lodged against professor Atul Johri, repeated protests by students calling for action, his quick arrest and an even quicker bail. In fact, the eight students allege that they are under immense pressure to withdraw their complaints.

Around 30 students lined up outside Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar’s office on Wednesday, 21 March, waiting only to meet the man and give him a letter demanding that he take action against the accused professor.

But a barrage of security personnel stopped them from even entering the gates. Kumar, who is otherwise active on Twitter, has not even acknowledged the matter, students allege.

Despite repeated letters and call for action, neither the vice chancellor nor anyone else from the administration have spoken about the sexual harassment allegations that have made national headlines over the past week.

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In a press conference held on campus by the complainants, a few hours after they tried visiting the vice chancellor, the students urged the administration to acknowledge their demand to suspend the accused professor with immediate effect.

The JNU administration has so far not taken any action against Atul Johri. They have not even acknowledged the fact that we have already approached them to suspend him. They have also not acknowledged that an FIR has been lodged against him or Delhi Commission for Women has sent them notices.
Statement by the complainants

The police had registered the first FIR on 16 March under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). According to the complainants, eight separate FIRs were filed against Johri three days later.

‘Attendance Used as an Excuse’

Johri, in a statement made in the court on 20 March, accused the students of using harassment as an issue to hide their low attendance.

Pointing out the statement to a packed room of people, the students say that the “excuse of attendance” was being made by Johri himself, that too to paint a “political colour” to the issue.

The students also say that the accused, who is a “vocal supporter” of the RSS and its political wing BJP, accused the complainants of being supporters of the left-wing, when in reality “six of the eight are registered members of the ABVP”.

Victims have alleged that they have been facing harassment at the hands of Johri since 2013, but did not have the courage report it as they have “no faith in the Internal Complaints Committee”.

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‘Shocked by Bail to Accused’

While students accuse the police of not objecting to the bail, Dependra Pathak, Delhi Police spokesperson said, “bail plea was opposed by Delhi Police on grounds of apprehension of the complainants regarding intimidation from the accused.”

Students and complainants not only expressed “shock”, but also said that it was “appalling” that the professor managed to get bail in eight different cases within minutes.

They claimed that the “quick bail” to the professor made them question the “seriousness” with which sexual harassment is treated in our society.

If we don’t speak up now, the situation will not change and other female students who are going to pursue their research under Atul Johri’s supervision would go through similar experiences.
Statement by the complainants

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