We are 4th year students of Symbiosis Law School Hyderabad. We wrote a letter to Menaka Gandhi, Minister of women and child development, National Commission for Women and various other organizations and individuals on 1st April about institutional mismanagement of sexual harassment complaints. The complaint against Prof. Srinivas Methuku was one among the 4 sexual harassment allegations mentioned in our letter. Dr. Shejul, registrar of SIU responded to the ministry in a document which stated that Methuku was reprimanded by the director. That document said that the other allegations mentioned in the complaint was simply misconstrued by us as sexual harassment or that action was already taken. The issues raised by us about procedural flaws and mistreatment of victims wasn’t addressed in the document sent by Dr. Shejul.
Later on a committee which was referred to as Internal Committee headed by Col. Vijayalakshmi met us. In conversation with Internal committee we were intimidated. Questions like, “What if the victim says it is not sexual harassment?” were asked. M.S Shejul trivialised Sexual harassment allegations.
After our 6th semester got over in April, in order to leave the college we had to get an outpass signed by warden and the campus administrator. Our parents are supposed to send mails for these out passes to be issued. When we went to get outpass, they refused to give us, saying that the mail IDs that were used to send the mail were not of our parents’. I, Apoorva had booked the bus ticket to leave that day, so I tried to walk out of the campus without outpass. The guards surrounded and physically restrained me locking the gate from inside. Though I called Women help line help didn’t arrive on time and I was completely unnerved by manhandling meted with me. I grew anxious and threw the iron latch away and walked out of the campus. On the other hand, I Snigdha was given an outpass the next day based on the same mail.
Later on, a disciplinary Committee was constituted against us. We requested them to hold Disciplinary Committee proceedings after the college reopens as in month of May and June we’re given Summer internship break. When asked for a Complaint letter we were only told that Campus Administrator has complained against us wrt Hostel rules violations. We’re never given complaint letter stating what act of ours amounted to violation. Anyway, In the last mail sent by disciplinary committee we’re told that our absence in the next committee meeting would be construed as acceptance of our guilt. To this day we neither know what are the particular charges, if at all the committee came to conclusion about the matter we’re never informed. Neither were we called to attend any proceedings in this semester nor served any warning, notice there of with regard to any disciplinary matter verbally or written or electronic media.
On October 9th, an anonymous Instagram story was posted on Kalmuhi alleging that Asst. Prof. Srinivas Methuku had harrassed a student by ogling at private parts. In solidarity with our friend, we posted a Facebook post stating that M.S Shejul has accepted that allegations against Mr. Methuku were dealt with and he was severely reprimanded. Mr. Methuku was a member of grievance redressal committee for academic year 2018-19.
On October 13 2018, Dr. Pooja Malhan, head of student affairs on a telephonic conversation told Apoorva was supposed to gather complainants and make them submit their complaints against ICC though Identity would be confidential. After this, Snigdha posted about procedural errors and callousness on part of people in power in constituting ICC and dealing with sexual harrassment complaint.
We initially decided to boycott ICC, as the student body wasn’t informed about it and were fixing time period for victims to come out but later 8 students deposed in front of ICC. Afterwards, Apoorva mailed ICC head Dr. Prageetha Raju and others about the ICC asking her to inform about any progress or decision reached by ICC to complainants. The complainants were not informed of the ICC decision as of 26th October.
On October 25th, Dean of Symbiosis Law School met us and told us we will be rusticated unless we take down our Facebook posts and give an undertaking saying that we won’t repeat it in the future. We didn’t do that. The next day, our parents were called and we were given eviction notices effective immediately. However, no suspension or rustication letters were given to us and we are still unaware of the details of the disciplinary committee action that is said to be taken against us.