False Accusations Against Ekalavya Chaudhuri of Jadavpur University Kolkata Show A Dark Culture of Defamation, Bullying and Harassment
Even after a procedure lasting a year, not a shred of any actual evidence was found. This was stated as such by the relevant authorities. Yet, already while the procedure of the inquiry had been still ongoing, attempts were made to penalize the individual against whom allegations had been levelled. There were pre existing questions about that. But then, even despite the allegations being dismissed by the investigating body, the authority of the university attempted to foist even further penalization! There was a great deal of talk about ‘law’.
Well, it was the rule of law that ended such talking. The judgment and orders of the Calcutta High Court (or the High Court at Calcutta) finally gave relief to a student of Jadavpur University, Kolkata, in West Bengal.
The authorities, who had been withholding the student’s marksheet due to protests by a faction of political students, were made to hand it over to him. In a further relief for the student, the results disclosed that he had come first in his class in the department of English in the final undergraduate examinations, which he had sat for facing intimidatory bullying from his peers.
Allegations of harassment had been raised against Ekalavya Chaudhuri, a student of English at Jadavpur University, by a politicized faction of students. Insisting that he be penalized, this faction had made several demands and heated up the campus. Students had surrounded him and tried to intimidate him with slogans when he had been trying to attend his classes, in attempts at scare tactics. For investigating, the matter had been referred to the Internal Complaints Committee. The State Women’s Commission had also been consulted.
On 30 June 2017, the Internal Complaints Committee of Jadavpur University handed over the report on the Ekalavya Chaudhuri matter to the authority. At that point, it all unraveled.
The report stated that none of the allegations had any witness to substantiate them, and moreover that one of the accusing individuals did not even appear before the ICC for deposition and when contacted over the phone refused to give deposition and stated she was no longer willing to pursue the complaint. One of the accusing individuals even admitted in their deposition, upon questioning, that she had complained in order to “help” the causes of another politically oriented person who was a “friend”.
Evidence was also given by Ekalavya Chaudhuri at the investigative committee constituted by Jadavpur University, it seems, to the effect that the principal instigator in the affair had been in communication with him quite after the timeline of a date spoken of as being that on which the act was committed.
At the university, in response to questions, people opined that the allegations, which took place in 2016, were a targeted and deliberate conspiracy arising out of academic jealousy: Ekalavya had been topping the examinations, and was the son of a professor at the university. It is distressing to note that even in the light of such a situation, the marksheets of Ekalavya Chaudhuri were still withheld by the administration due to further agitations by the students. He had to file a case in the Calcutta High Court in order to seek them out. The presiding judge, while ordering in his favour, commented in his judgment at the time that the situation would be an ‘unjust and unfair’ one if permitted to be carried on any further. (Source: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/165925845/)
Incidents like this one that took place in 2017 at Jadavpur University should not be seen as being limited to one educational institute of West Bengal, however. Rather, the incident should give us sobering pause to reflect on the dangerous turns sometimes taking place today, where a culture of defamation, false accusations, and the harassment of intimidatory bullying comes together to target innocent people. It should also give us pause to question if we are on a potential slippery slope in such matters, and if so, where we could be going to with this.