False Accusations Against Ekalavya Chaudhuri of Jadavpur University Kolkata Show An Increasingly Dark Culture of Defamation, Cyber Bullying and Harassment
Even after a procedure lasting for a year, not a shred of any evidence was found. This was stated as such by the relevant authorities. Yet, already, while the procedure of the inquiry had still been ongoing, attempts were made to penalize the individual against whom allegations had been levelled. There were pre-existing questions about this. But then, even despite the allegations being dismissed by the concerned relevant investigating body, the authority of the university attempted to foist further undeserved penalization!
Fortunately, it was the rule of law that ended all this. The judgment and ensuing orders of the Calcutta High Court finally gave relief to a student of Jadavpur University, Kolkata, in West Bengal.
The university 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 by the court order. 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 a political group of some of his peers.
Allegations of harassment had been raised against Ekalavya Chaudhuri, an undergraduate student of English at Jadavpur University, on the 23rd of July, 2016, via the social media platform of Facebook by a radical faction of students. Insisting that he be penalized, this faction had then heated up the institute campus. Students from a political group had surrounded him and tried to intimidate him with slogans when he had been trying to attend his classes, in attempts at scare tactics.
Following the demands of these students, the matter had been referred by the University to its Internal Complaints Committee.
On 30 June 2017, the Internal Complaints Committee of Jadavpur University handed over the report on the investigation conducted by them to the authority.
At that point, everything unraveled.
The report stated that there was nothing that could make one ascertain any actual nature of the alleged ‘reported incidents’, and that one of the accusing individuals did not even appear before the Committee for deposition to detail her claims and moreover when contacted over phone refused to give any deposition and stated she was no longer willing to pursue the complaint. One of the other accusing individuals admitted in her 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 is learnt, to the effect that the principal instigator in the affair had been in communication with him quite after the timeline of dates spoken of in the allegations levelled.
At Jadavpur University, in response to questions, people in the know opined that the allegations, which were levelled in 2016, were a deliberately targeted conspiracy arising out of politics and academic jealousy.
Unfortunately, even in the light of the fact that the committee organized by the university did not find Ekalavya Chaudhuri guilty, the marksheets of Ekalavya Chaudhuri were still withheld by the Jadavpur University administration due to agitations by a political faction of students. He then had to file a case in the Calcutta High Court in order to seek them out.
The judge presiding on this case, while ordering in the favour of Ekalavya Chaudhuri, commented in his judgment that the situation would be an ‘unjust and unfair’ one if permitted to be carried on any further, and if the judiciary did not interfere at this juncture.
Incidents like this one, that took place in 2017 at Jadavpur University Kolkata, should not be seen as being limited to just that institute. Rather, this incident should give us sobering pause to reflect on the truly dangerous turns sometimes taking place today, where a culture of defamation, false accusations, online smear campaigns, the harassment of intimidatory cyber bullying and ‘cancel culture’, can come together to target and defame an innocent person.
It should also give us pause to reflect, and to question if we are on a potential slippery slope here, and if so, where we could be finally headed if as a society we continue with this mass mentality.