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Scores of students, teachers and women rights activists today took to the streets protesting against the alleged molestation of a research scholar at St Stephen’s College and the principal’s attempts to hush up the issue. Even as the college principal Valson Thampu has demanded a CBI probe into the issue alleging that “the victim is being used against him”, the protestors demanded that he be removed from office pending an enquiry against him. A section of Delhi University students and teachers along with student bodies including All India Students’ Association and Students Federation of India, staged a protest outside the college campus. “The entire country talks about women safety but if a girl cannot find herself safe and get justice at renowned institutions like DU and St Stephen’s….it is shameful for our education system,” said Shreya, a DU student. 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 Thampu’s resignation and justice for the victim. A research scholar has alleged that she was molested by an assistant professor in the college’s Chemistry department. The accused Satish Kumar, who was supervising her PhD, had also threatened to pour sulphuric acid on her. The complainant has also alleged that Thampu had tried to shield Kumar and pressurised her to not treat the issue as that of sexual harassment. In support of her argument, she had also made public a set of recordings which she claimed she had made during her meetings with the principal regarding the issue. Thampu, however, has discarded them as “mischievously edited” tapes maintaining that a forensic investigation of them will clear the air. The protestors also demanded that with the probe being underway, the university should change the victim’s research supervisor so her PhD doesn’t suffer.
“We want her supervisor to be changed immediately. The professor and the principal have deliberately delayed her PhD so far…there should be no more injustice to her,” said Maya John, an activist from Centre from Struggling Women.