Sexual harassment charge against vice-principal in Karnataka


Agitated students at the entrance of the Dr. T.M.A. Pai Polytechnic in Manipal on Monday. Students of the Dr. T.M.A. Pai Polytechnic here boycotted classes on Monday alleging that a woman lecturer had been sexually harassed by the polytechnic’s vice-principal. The lady has filed a police complaint and a FIR has been registered.

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According to the complainant, a lecturer in the Department of Computer Sciences, Dr. T.M.A Pai Polytechnic in Manipal, the institute's Vice-Principal Srikanth Pai allegedly misbehaved with her and sought sexual favours on August 27 in the teachers' room. When the lady objected to his behaviour, he reportedly touched her inappropriately. Shocked by his behaviour, the teacher ran out of the room and collapsed on the college corridor. A section of the students were a witness to this incident, it is said.

The police said that a case has been registered under Sections 354A (sexual harassment), 354D (stalking) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code at the Women’s Police Station against Pai and that investigation is on. Meanwhile, agitated students gathered in large numbers at the polytechnic and demanded that Pai be immediately dismissed.

Prajwal D. Shetty, president of All College Polytechnic Students Union, alleged that there were two previous incidents of such harassment in which Pai was involved. But the polytechnic had not taken any action against him. The students will boycott classes until Pai was dismissed from service, he said.

Amruta, a student, said that the students did not want Pai to continue, after this incident. “He should be dismissed,” she said. Meanwhile, T. Ranga Pai, academic coordinator of the polytechnic, said that the charge of the students that there were two previous incidents of harassment in which Pai was involved did not hold water. The polytechnic had a committee to look into complaints of sexual harassment for the last two years as per the Vishaka guidelines. But no complaints had come to it.

“The committee will look into the present complaint. Pai is a permanent employee. He could not be dismissed without a probe. He has been suspended pending enquiry. Further action would be taken after the committee probed into the matter, within a week,” he said.

To a query, Mr. Ranga Pai said that there had been an altercation between Pai and the lecturer’s husband after the incident on Saturday morning. The lecturer gave a complaint against Pai to the polytechnic management on Saturday after the incident, he said. The polytechnic, established in 1985, has 932 students.

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