NEW DELHI -- Another place, another university.
While the Jawaharlal Nehru University row and the suicide of a Dalit scholar at the University of Hyderabad are still simmering, a student of Allahabad University has said that she is being harassed for challenging key decisions made by the educational institution, including the invitation to Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker Yogi Adityanath for inaugurating the Students' Union hall, last year.
In an open letter, Richa Singh, the first woman president of the Allahabad University Students' Union, and a PhD scholar for nearly two years, has accused the authorities of trying to revoke her admission on "false grounds."
Singh's admission was recently the subject of an internal inquiry following a complaint that she was granted a seat which was reserved for a student from the Other Backwards Classes (OBC) category.
The internal inquiry has concluded that one of two available seats in 2014 for a PhD in -- 'Globalisation and Development Studies at the Faculty of Arts -- should have gone to a reserved candidate, but its report makes clear that the “mistake” was committed by University staff involved in the selection process, The Indian Express reported, last week.
"The timing of authorities raising questions over her admission, which she took in 2014, is under doubt. I have submitted the report I was supposed to. Also, there was no need for an inquiry committee as the facts on her admission could have been accessed in the records. She has come by merit. There is nothing illegal about her admission as it is being alleged," Virendra Pal Singh, head of 'Globalization and Development Studies' department, told The Times of India
The Indian Express also reported that the complainant is Rajneesh Kumar, who contested the Students' Union election on behalf of the Pratiyogi Chhatra Morcha, but lost to Singh. In a separate complaint, Kumar said that Singh was associated with Left organizations and she did not follow hostel rules.
In her open letter, Singh said that she had challenged the appointment of an "OSD" (Officer on Special Duty) by Vice Chancellor Professor R L Hangloo because he was someone who had been accused of "sexual harassment and caste discrimination."
"The appointment of such a person shows that administration is not at all sensitive towards crimes against Dalits and women," she told TOI.
Singh said that she had also opposed the visit of Adityanath, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh, "on the grounds that he is communal," but the non-violent protest, which she organized, was disrupted.
"I, along with other female students ,was physically attacked and harassed in the university campus on midnight of 19-20th November 2015 in the presence of the Proctor of the University. Despite the fact that I sent a complaint to the VC, the university administration has not yet constituted any inquiry committee or initiated any action against the culprits. The Proctor continues to hold his post: no questions have been asked of him.
The harassment continues in various forms. They are now raising questions on my admission. I have been admitted here as a PhD scholar for nearly two years now: why these questions all of a sudden? I fear that they will find some false grounds to cancel my admission and hence remove me from my post of President. These are all attempts to silence me. I request you to carry my voice forward and build pressure on the university admin to be accountable." Richa Singh wrote in the letter.
Last month, Siddharth Varadarajan, former Editor-in Chief of The Hindu, was not allowed to speak at Allahabad University following protests by students of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a right-wing organization.
Singh and the senior journalists were stuck in Hangloo's office for half-an-hour, while ABVP students protested his entry into the campus, and they could leave only after the police intervened.