Suspended from BJP for calling Gandhi 'father of Pakistan, IIMC Amravati director booked for harassing faculty

The police registered a case against the regional director Anil Kumar Saumitra under Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act

IIMC Amravati
IIMC Amravati

Anil Jadhav

The Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) campus at Amravati is agog following the police registering a case against regional director Anil Kumar Saumitra under Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act.

A former BJP Bhopal spokesperson, Saumitra had apparently been suspended from the party after calling Mahatma Gandhi the father of Pakistan. He was then quietly rehabilitated as regional director of IIMC, a premier institution set up by the Union Government to train Indians and several other countries in journalism and communication, at Amravati. The western regional centre opened in 2011 and conducts one-year PG Diploma courses in English and Marathi journalism.

The FIR was registered after Vinay Sonule, an assistant professor at the institute on contract since 2019, filed a complaint of harassment and humiliation against the director earlier this month.

The regional director has courted controversy by allegedly not engaging classes. “He never delivered a lecture for either EJ or MJ students though he is the course director. He doesn’t have fluency over any of the two languages. He is not easily accessible to us either. He has divided students and allows only his favourites to enter his cabin,” complained one of the students.

Others endorsed the sentiment. “We have to go through the lady assistant of his and an administrative advisor if we wish to meet him. He literally keeps the door of his chamber closed all the time and does not entertain our grievances,” said MJ students who did not want to be named. Students claim they were witness to Vinay Sonule being humiliated and harassed by the director in public.

Repeated and on the spot changes in time tables, engaging Hindi visiting faculty to teach Marathi students, ignoring academic lectures to accommodate UNICEF webinars were some of their grievances.

The appointment of the widow of a friend of the regional director as academic cum teaching associate is also an issue in the campus. She was allegedly not qualified for the post but was still appointed. “We were warned against complaining about her teaching,” a student who later lodged a complaint against her with the Director General, said. “She was instantly transferred to Delhi,” he added.

The said associate was given a free quarter and other amenities, she was protected from engaging lectures; instead of engaging her as teacher, she was given the charge of canteen on a monthly payment of Rs. 35,000, allege a section of the faculty and students.

“The regional director’s primary agenda seemed ousting older staffers and replacing them with people of his choice from organisations affiliated to the Sangh Parivar,” they complained.

These sections claimed Sonule to be devoted and student-friendly teacher. The director started harassing him after Sonule asked him to allot lectures to the academic associate.

‘An attempt was made to evict him from his cabin, he was robbed of his charge as exam coordinator on the day of examination, all the facilities given to him were withdrawn,’ it was alleged.

He was forced to go to the police when his pleas to the DG and the ministry were ignored.

The director retaliated by suspending Sonule on Monday, when theory exams of the first semester were to begin. This act finally led the police to register the case.

Saumitra was chief of Vishwa Samvaad Kendra, Bhopal, the communication centre of the RSS. He was also editor of a Sangh periodical Charaivati and associated with Paanchjanya. Having done his PhD in Sociology from Barkatullah University, he was appointed as professor despite having no teaching experience.

(This report will be updated once we hear from the regional director and Sonule, who remained inaccessible)

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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