Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell Missing in New NU Building, Campus and Gate | Nagpur News

Nagpur: Nagpur University (NU) has a new Vice-Chancellor, a huge new administration building funded by the late Rahul Bajaj and a swanky new gate between 2018 and 2022. However, the cell dedicated to combating sexual harassment shines by its absence from all of the above platforms.
In 2018, a medical student filed a sexual harassment complaint against former pro-VC Gaurishanker Parasher and HoD Rajashri Vaishnav. The then VC SP Kane announced not only the revival of the defunct anti-sexual harassment cell at the Amravati Road campus, but also an additional cell in the former NU building at Rabindranath Tagore Marg in Civil Lines.
Kane resigned in April 2020 without fulfilling his commitment to aggrieved students. Although offices have been allocated for this purpose in the new building, the room remains locked. Throughout the building, adjoining campus, and website, there is no information regarding redress for sexual harassment complaints. NU also did not include the cell’s contact details in its official journal.
The heads of the cell are professors from the NU PG departments, from where they handle complaints, if any, additionally. The NU also updated its website recently, but the new one does not have an option to report sexual harassment issues.
The latest controversy involving a teacher in the Hindi postgraduate department who allegedly sought sexual favors from two doctoral students reveals the importance of an easily accessible complaints forum. The aggrieved girls had no idea how to seek redress and approached their guide, who then asked members of the Senate to raise the issue. A formal complaint has not yet been filed.
In accordance with the UGC regulations to prevent, prohibit and remedy sexual harassment of female teachers and students in institutions of higher education, the university is responsible for publishing information on the mechanism in place for the redress of complaints relating to sexual harassment. It must also display in leaflets and notice boards the complaints procedure and the contact details of the members of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).
VC Subhash Chaudhari is tight-lipped about the whole affair. He has yet to respond to calls and messages from YOU on the matter. Sangita Meshram, head of the cell, also declined to comment.
Neelima Deshmukh, a former cell member secretary, said students and defendants called her even though she retired three years ago. “I had been appointed as the representative of an NGO on the panel. Previously, I was the director of the Center for Women’s Studies and Development. As I approached retirement, I was appointed as an NGO representative on the panel. Now I am not able to help them,” she said, adding that during her tenure the cell was in the humanities block.
Department of Higher Education Takes Note of NU Case
The NU administration has been asked by senior officials in the higher education department to set up an investigation into the alleged case of sexual harassment of two doctoral students. Following the boost, VC Subhash Chaudhari is likely to set up a panel on Monday itself. However, the panel will likely include members of Shikshan Manch, who are not part of the university’s anti-sexual harassment cell.

Jennifer C. Burleigh