A 17-year-old student Mary (name changed) from Scott Christian college, Nagercoil has accused a professor – V Ranjan, the Head of the History department – of sexually harassing her inside the college. An FIR has been filed in the issue in the All Women’s Police Station in Nagercoil on Tuesday, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. While Mary had written several letters to the college management, no action has been taken by the college against Ranjan so far.
Mary, in a letter written to the principal of the college, J Robert Victor Edward, and the Correspondent of Scott Christian College, S Byju Nizeth Paaul, on April 10, said that Ranjan had misbehaved with her in his room in the college on April 9. She also accused him of constantly harassing her over the last few months, ever since she joined the college.
“He somehow got my phone number and has been touching me inappropriately and sending other students away when I go to his room in the college. He calls me at night and troubles me. I am scared,” she wrote in the letter, which was also marked to the Bishop in charge of the CSI Diocese in Kanyakumari, Rt. Rev. Dr Baker Ninan Fenn, who is also the Bishop of the Cochin Diocese. The diocese manages the Scott Christian College.
The college allegedly took no action in the matter, so she sent these letters once again to the three officials on April 16, this time by registered post. Again, no action was taken against Ranjan, so several other students of the college jointly wrote a letter to the principal on April 22.
“We wrote a complaint to you after the victim came out of the room and cried to us, explaining what happened inside. But you questioned only her and left it at that without taking any action,” the letter said.
The students also stated that Ranjan had somehow got wind of the letter, and had threatened to fail some of the students in their semester exams.
The college meanwhile claimed that the allegations against Ranjan were baseless. Robert Victor Edward, the principal of the college, told TNM that an internal inquiry had been conducted on the complaint. “The inquiry concluded that the allegations were baseless. There was no evidence for the accusations against the professor either,” he said.
Alleging conspiracy, the principal said, “There is politics between the faculty members of the department, and one group has instigated the students to file a complaint against a professor from the other group.”
Accusing Mary of lying, he said, “The professor has a habit of drinking alcohol, and he had been warned a few times by the college. However, there is no basis for the claims of the girl about the phone calls.”
He further added that the governing board of the institute has formed an external committee to look into the issue and the process of investigation is on. “We will know the result of the probe in the meeting of the governing board in May. If the allegations are proven, the board will take action against the staff,” he said.
A police officer at the Nagercoil AWPS confirmed to TNM that an FIR has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and that the police is yet to begin investigation in the case.