Students and teachers of Delhi University and women rights activists today stepped up their protests against St Stephen's Principal Valson Thampu demanding that he resign over his handling of the research scholar molestation case. Thampu on his part said he would resign if it was proved that "he was a cause of embarrassment to the institution".
Thampu, who is facing demands for resignation for allegedly pressurising the victim to withdraw the complaint, also claimed that she was "coached to plot him in the issue" and alleged that the ones pretending to be her helpers are the "handlers" of the controversy.
"If I am a cause of embarrassment to the institution and it is objectively proved, I will put in my papers that very moment," Thampu, who has been embroiled in controversies ever since he took over as college's principal in 2008, said.
His comments came in the wake of the allegations levelled by a PhD student that she was molested by an assistant professor in the Chemistry department and Thampu had tried to protect the accused by pressurising her not to treat the issue as that of sexual harassment. The protestors who included representatives of student bodies including All India Students' Association and Students Federation of India staged a protest outside the St Stephens college campus, demanding that he be removed from office pending an enquiry against him. Activists from All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), Centre for Struggling Women (CSW), Saheli and All India Progressive Women Association (AIPWA), among other women organisations, also joined them in demanding justice for the victim. As the demand for his resignation grew shriller, Thampu claimed that he has been trapped on the issue deliberately.
"The complainant has admitted that she has been taping the conversations with me from the very first day. It is understandable that someone tapes the conversation with another, after having experienced something fishy or hostile.
"In this case the interaction began as a sting. This points very strongly to the possibility that doing the sting was the very purpose of her coming to me. Please note- I say the possibility, not certainty," he said. On the protests, Thampu said, "I want to be explicit in saying this. What is the need to mount extra-judicial pressure on the issue? What is the need to bring various other organisations to disturb the peace of campus?" The woman complainant also submitted a request to the Delhi University Vice Chancellor requesting for appointment of a new PhD supervisor for her, while the issue is being probed. While the Delhi University has refused to intervene in the issue, the Union Human Resources Development ministry has directed the University Grants Commission(UGC) to ensure the probe is conducted "expeditiously" and "impartially".
UGC has appointed an official to oversee the proceedings of the college's Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) regarding the row.
The victim, however, has refused to appear before the ICC saying she has lost faith in the committee's proceedings and she is seeking redress elsewhere.