Students and supporters of the youth wing of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Nationalist Student Congress, and the Prahar Student Organisation staged a protest at Mithibai College, Vile Parle on Tuesday.
Mumbai: Students and supporters of the youth wing of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Nationalist Student Congress, and the Prahar Student Organisation staged a protest at Mithibai College, Vile Parle on Tuesday, demanding the resignation of principal Rajpal Hande, as he has been accused of sexual harassment. On Tuesday, protesters stormed the college premises, as the principal had not stepped down even though a First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged against him. Hande was accused of sexual harassment by a former professor of KJ Somaiya College, Vidyavihar, in 2007. Then in 2016, a psychologist had alleged Hande had misbehaved with her during an event.
Protesters claimed they wanted the principal to resign as he was setting an incorrect example. NCP leader Amol Matale said, “The principal is setting a wrong example for students. We demand his resignation as the police have registered a case based on the accusations.” As the protests were about to take a violent turn, Juhu Police detained 40 supporters of the student Congress and 10 women for unlawful assembly. Police said they had not arrested anybody for protesting, but merely detained them to maintain law and order. Last week, Shiv Sena leader Dr Neelam Gorhe had demanded the resignation of Hande.
The first victim allegedly faced harassment by Mr. Hande for three years before she opened up to the college management, but to no avail. Finally, she submitted a complaint to Mumbai University, after which she was suspended by the college for ‘defamation’. She subsequently wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office and got a response, after which an FIR was lodged at Tilaknagar police station in 2018.
After the first victim’s case became public, another victim, a practising psychologist, alleged that Mr. Hande had behaved inappropriately with her at a conference held by the Bombay Psychological Association in 2016 at Mithibai College. After no action was taken by the college, she filed a complaint against him at Juhu police station in February.
“This is a social issue that needs to be addressed. How can such a big educational institution be so callous with victims of sexual harassment?” the second victim said.
The woman approached the Juhu police to file a written complaint against the principal in January 2019 where she had alleged that she was sexually harassed during a visit to college to attend an event three years ago.
The principal touched her inappropriately while shaking hands with her and also sent her an unsolicited SMS the following day.
“The accused in this case holds a position of responsibility in an educational institute, where even students can become victims. I hope the college takes serious action against him,” said the complainant.
According to reports, the woman had first approached the college authorities to take strict action in the matter but when none of them paid attention to her plight she filed the complaint.
“The police took one month to record statements of witnesses as well as officials from the college before they could register my complaint,” the complainant states.