Saturday June 03, 2023

Four more Gomal University employees sacked on sexual harassment charges

March 06, 2020

PESHAWAR: The issue of sexual harassment of female students in Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan has taken a new turn as four more employees of the institution have been dismissed of service on the charges of “proven grave misconduct” and the action is believed to have been taken to avenge the forced resignation of another professor of the university a few days back.

In Malakand University, too, proceedings have been started to probe the allegations of sexual harassment against a professor by a foreign student. Similar, cases have also been reported in other universities causing serious concern and unrest among the general public in general and parents in particular. The Gomal University administration had issued four separate notification awarding major penalty – dismissal from service – to four employees -- two teaching and as many non-teaching – on the charges of sexual harassment. They included Prof Dr Bakhtiar Khan, of the institution of business administration, Imran Qureshi, assistant professor of the same department, Hikmatullah, game supervisor and Hafeezullah, Lab attendant.

The final paragraph of the four notifications was the same, which reads: “Further retention of these employees is prejudicial on account of proven grave misconduct of sexual harassment and, therefore, he is awarded major punishment of dismissal from service with immediate effect.” The action was taken days after the forced resignation of Dr Salahuddin, dean of arts and head of Arabic studies and research, who had to quit the institution after being found guilty by a television camera of sexually harassing girl students of the university. The university administration had been left with no other option but to ask him to resign. He was then arrested by police and sent to jail. However, he has acquired bail from the court and has come out of jail now.

Some reports suggested that the allegations of sexual harassment against Dr Salahuddin had been made long before and formal complaints had been submitted with the university administration. But no action could be taken against him owing to his political influence and cordial ties with the top bosses in the university.

According to Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Chaudry Mohammad Sarwar, the university administration asked Professor Salahuddin to quit after he was found guilty of immoral and indecent acts. Sources on the other hand said that Salahuddin was considered as a close aide of the vice-chancellor and registrar and this was the reason that no action could be taken against him before the startling revelations made in a television programme as a number of complaints had already been lodged against him.

There has been great polarisation in the university. Majority of the teaching fraternity has been opposed to the steps and policies of the current administration. They had also launched a long protest drive and the university administration had taken action against a number of the employees. Some sources said that the vice-chancellor was not happy with the forced resignation of Dr Salahuddin, which was why he initiated the inquiry against a number of teaching and non-teaching staff and four of them were dismissed of their job as a revenge.

The vice-chancellor, however, said that a number of girl students had lodge written complaints in light of which the matter was probed and action was taken against the four employees. He added that an inquiry against four more teachers was in progress and the committee would soon submit its report in light of which further action would be taken.

Meanwhile, a three-member inquiry committee has been formed in Malakand University to probe the allegations made by a Chinese student of the university against Prof Qaiser Khan, chairman of the Department of English. According to sources, a Chinese student Ms Zhou Min, who has been pursuing her MPhil in the Department of English in the University, has approached the high-ups in the university as well as in the government making serious allegations of sexual harassment against her professor.

The university has formed a three-member committee to probe the matter. The committee, according to sources, has held four meetings so far and it would submit its report soon. Some members of the committee when approached by this reporter confirmed to have started proceedings. But they declined to comment considering it as “highly confidential” matter. The university’s spokesman, Fida Khan, also declined to comment till submission of the committee’s report. He said that an “unofficial email has been made to an unofficial address” in which allegations of sexual harassment have been made against a professor of the university.