Home minister parries question on sexual harassment case

Home minister parries question on sexual harassment case

Womens panel chief too was not all that forthcoming

In a stark irony, a revelation dawned upon a section of people at a seminar organised in Mysore to discuss the social pressures and issues that lead to women going missing from homes.

If the responses of Home Minister R Ashoka and Women’s Commission chairperson Manjula about the sexual harassment of zoology research scholar R Sarita at the University of Mysore are anything to go by, the case will die a slow, natural death.

Ashoka, who was in the city to attend the valedictory function of the State-level seminar on ‘Missing girls and Women: Issues and implications’, vouching to support women’s causes and their safety, was mostly interested in answering questions about the solidarity in the Bharatiya Janata Party.

When journalists quizzed him about the case of Sarita, who attempted suicide in March 2011, unable to get justice from the University of Mysore on her complaint against Shivabasavaiah, her then guide and head of the department of zoology, Ashoka initially chose to ignore the question for sometime.

But when mediapersons persisted on knowing the ‘progress’ in the case, the minister said: “Two inquiries are over. What more do you want?”

Reporters sought to know from the minister if conducting an inquiry was the logical end to the case.

Callous reply

The minister rather callously said: “We will file a case,” and left the venue. He clearly wasn’t in the know of things that his colleague, Minister V S Acharya, had sought a report on the action the Mysore University had taken on the guilty professor.

If that was the stance of the government, chairperson of the Women’s Commission was hardly any better.

Police patrol suggested

Manjula, who recommended that every college should have two policemen patrolling the premises to ensure men don’t harass girl students, had to be literally stalked till she took questions on this case.

She said the Commission had ‘recommended’ to the State government that the issue had to be dealt with.

When  reporters said the case would come directly under the governor, who is the chancellor of universities, and sought to know if the Commission had made a representation to him, Manjula’s answer was anything but clear.

“We intervened and stopped his transfer to Kuvempu University (though the Kuvempu University Syndicate members stood firmly against this). We also requested MLC Vimala Gowda to discuss the matter in the House,” she said, criticising mediapersons for bringing ‘Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa’ while speaking to the Home minister.

“The case will take its own time. Do you know law that you can predict its outcome,” she shot back when reporters sought to know what would be the punishment for the guilty.