JU prof, who said women’s virginity is like ‘sealed water bottle’, likely to face legal action
Jadavpur Varsity VC Suranjan Das, who had barred prof Kanak Sarkar from entering the campus for a misogynist FB post, said he could face legal action to ensure such incidents do not occur again
Two days after the Jadavpur University barred professor Kanak Sarkar from entering the campus for a misogynist social media post, its Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das has said he is mulling legal action in the case to ensure such incidents do not occur again.
Sarkar, a professor at the university's international relations department, had extolled women's virginity, comparing it to the seal of a bottle, in a Facebook post.
Although he had deleted the comment soon after, screenshots of the post went viral on social media, triggering outrage and widespread condemnation.
Kanak Sarkar has not yet apologised for the post but went on to defend his post by stating that he had a right to his own opinion. He also went on to reshare some of his old posts claiming that he had supported women and condemned rape in light of the recent controversy.
In response to the criticism, he posted the following on Facebook, “I write my personal opinion. Supreme Court has repealed section 66 A of IT Act and given freedom of expression in Social Media. When Taslima Nasrin wrote against a particular religion we supported her Freedom of Expression. We are supporting Bengali Poet Srijato who writes about Hindu Gods. I have not written anything against any person, individual or anybody without any evidence or proof or any reference. I am doing social research and writing for the good and wellbeing of Society. The recent post I have given in ‘Kalom’ and ‘Mukto Kalom’ public group only. Many are sharing screen shots. I request not to confuse. It’s everybody’s right to express his/ her thoughts. I have given many posts for and in favour of women. Can verify them in my Timeline.”
Das said on Thursday that strict action would be taken against the professor as per university statute.
"Sarkar has been barred from entering the campus till the time a university-appointed committee files its report for thorough examination. We are mulling strictest legal action against him.
"Additionally, the National Commission for Women (NCW) and West Bengal women's commission are also probing charges against him," he said.
The vice chancellor also said that he will do his bit to cooperate with NCW representatives if and when they visit the campus next week.
The notification, signed by departmental head Prof Omprakash Mishra, said, "in view of the recommendation of the department of International Relations Prof Kanak Sarkar is divested of his teaching duties with immediate effect..." Mishra also said that several students have filed written complaints of alleged inappropriate conduct against the professor following the outrage over his Facebook post.
The department received around 35 written complaints against Sarkar, based on which action was taken against him, he said.
Sarkar had written in a Facebook post on Sunday, "Are you willing to buy a broken seal while purchasing a bottle of cold drink or a packet of biscuits? It is the same case with your wife. A girl is biologically sealed from birth until it is opened. A virgin girl means many things accompanied as values, culture, sexual hygiene. To most boys, virgin wife is like angel (sic)."
Students of the international relations department had boycotted classes on Monday and Tuesday, demanding Sarkar's immediate ouster.
One of them said on Friday that classes resumed following the issuance of a notification on Sarkar's dismissal by the university.
"We have been regularly attending classes since Wednesday as a notification issued by our departmental head clearly stated that Sarkar has been divested of his teaching duties," she added.
He had also suggested that men should remain celibate till marriage in one of his other “Value-oriented social counseling” posts. The post said, “Similarly a man should remain celibate and both should be moral in conjugal life. Without such positive values our life cannot prosper.”
Facing outrage and criticism, the professor, who has been teaching in the university for over two decades, tried to justify his comments by saying it was "intended for fun in a social media group of friends and not for public consumption".
"Someone took a screenshot of the post and forwarded it in the social media, which triggered the response. I did not intend to hurt anyone's sentiment or insult any woman," he said on Tuesday.
Despite multiple efforts, Sarkar could not be contacted for his reaction on Friday.
Sarkar was also one of the professors named in the list that was made almost two years ago about those who are repeat sexual harassers and predators in academics. The list can be seen below: