BHU : Dalit professor alleges harassment by colleague, lodges FIR
Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is again in the news for the wrong reasons; allegation of caste discrimination and harassment surfaces
Shobhna Narlikar, a Dalit professor, lodged an FIR against Dean of the Arts Faculty Dr Kumar Pankaj, alleging him of harassing her and making casteist remarks. Narlikar, who teaches at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (DJMC), has demanded in her FIR that police should arrest Pankaj because he threatened to kill her.
The FIR was lodged under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and Section 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal code at the Lanka Police Station in Varanasi on Thursday.
A copy of the FIR is in possession of National Herald which says that Shobhna Narlikar was called by Professor Pankaj for a meeting at 2 PM on Thursday. As Narlikar stepped inside Pankaj’s room, he started abusing her. According to the FIR, Pankaj, who teaches in the Department of Hindi, threatened to kill Narlikar.
The immediate reason of the provocation is not mentioned in the FIR. However, when contacted, Narlikar said that she had been subjected to harassment because of her caste identity. She is a Dalit.
“Pankaj has ganged up with some upper caste teachers in the department and created such an adverse, hostile situation for me in the department that I sometimes felt like leaving the university. He levelled false accusations against me, saying I have been absconding from duty. This is not true. When I showed him the proof of my presence on those days, he started shouting and abusing. I joined the BHU in 2002. All along, I have been facing discrimination in the campus. Because I live by myself on the university campus, I feel more vulnerable. Whenever I asked for leave to visit my family in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, I was denied,” she told National Herald in a telephone conversation.
“I was also not promoted due to my caste profile. Whenever I would raise this question, Pankaj, who is the head of the department, would abuse me and threaten to throw me out of the university. When I met him on Thursday, he said “Aukat me raho, tumne 14 sal se mahaul kharab kar rakha hai (Be within your limits. You have been vitiating the atmosphere for the last 14 years). I lodged a complaint with the Vice-Chancellor’s office but he is not in Varanasi,” she added.
Pointing out systematic and rampant caste discrimination in the BHU, Narlikar said that in the last few years, especially after the BJP government took charge at the Centre, the situation has gone from bad to worse. Despite getting admission, many Dalit students have not enrolled in research courses because they feared harassment/caste discrimination, she informed National Herald.
It is not for the first time that Narlikar has raised the issue of caste discrimination and harassment against Dalits on the campus.
Four years ago in 2013, she had lodged an FIR against her former head of the department, Sisir Basu, because he tried to outrage her modesty. “He was instigating male students to pass lewd remarks too,” she said.
When asked why she was the only one being repeatedly targeted, she said, “Because I am a Dalit and people like Kumar Pankaj, with active support from their political masters, do not want us grow.” We contacted Kumar Pankaj for his comments but he did not respond. However, he was quoted by a local news website as saying that he was not aware of any FIR against him.
- Banaras Hindu University
- caste discrimination
- Shobhna Narlikar
- BHU caste discrimination
- Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
- Journalism course at BHU
- Department of Journalism and Mass Communication