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Tribhuvan University VC says its hands are tied on harassment case

  • Krishna Bhattachan, the lecturer accused of sexually harassing his students for years, defends himself in a letter to the editor
- TSERING D GURUNG , Kathmandu

Jan 29, 2019-

Last week, a group of former students at the Tribhuvan University’s Department of Sociology told the Post how former lecturer Krishna Bahadur Bhattachan sexually harassed them for years.

The allegations against Bhattachan, an influential academic and indigenous rights activist, ranged from him making lewd remarks to inappropriately touching them during advising sessions at his residence.

Since the story was published on Friday, dozens of former students have taken to social media to demand that the university take action against Bhattachan. But, in an interview with the Post, Tribhuvan University Vice-chancellor Tirth Raj Khaniya said the university’s hands are tied since the accused lecturer is no longer associated with the institution.

“Had the victims come forward at the time of the incident and filed a complaint with the university, we could have taken immediate action,” Khaniya said.

“Now that the students have graduated and the lecturer in question is no longer working at the university, we can’t really do much.”

Nevertheless, Khaniya said the university has taken the revelations in the Post story as a lesson and will work towards increasing awareness about sexual harassment among both its students and the faculty.

“We have zero tolerance for sexual harassment on campus and we want to make sure our students and faculty know that,” he said.

The university, Khaniya said, will be conducting an orientation on what constitutes sexual harassment, especially for those professors who have to work with students outside the classrooms.

When asked if the university will be drafting a sexual harassment policy, he said, he didn’t think there was the need for one.“Our country’s laws are enough to deal with the issue,” he said.

Bhattachan has continued to deny the allegations against him. In a letter to the editor, Bhattachan condemned the Post’s report, describing it as a “...malicious intent to sabotage and systematically attack the Indigenous Peoples’ movement by defaming me” and labelled the allegations ‘manufactured’, ‘baseless’ and ‘false’.”

Bhattachan said he was targeted because he has been “highly critical of racism and discrimination against the Indigenous peoples, Dalit, Madhesi and other marginalised communities.”

Bhattachan, one of the country’s leading sociologists, was also among the professors named in a Center for Investigative Journalism-Nepal’s report last year that uncovered a nexus between Tribhuvan University’s central departments, professors, and business owners in bolstering a thriving business of plagiarised dissertations.

Published: 29-01-2019 07:29

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