Student alleges caste discrimination on five TISS faculty members

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A student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS),  has filed a complaint on five faculty members of the institute. The complaint has been filed alleging caste based discrimination. The five faculty members were called to record their statements at the Trombay Police station last week.

Vijay Oberoi, a resident of Himachal Pradesh was enrolled in a two year residential programme, Masters of Social work, at TISS’s Mumbai Campus from the academic year 2016-2018 has filed a complaint against those five faculty member of the campus.

The complaint has been submitted to Trombay Police station on January 21, 2019. The complaint was against his then professor for social work Shubhada Maitra (now Dean of School of Social Work).

In his complaint Oberoi said, he met Prof. Maitra in her cabin on December 19, 2017 after submitting his filed work for the fourth semester to discuss his evaluation. Oberoi’s complaint states, “She asked me about my family, financial background, etc. At that time, she said it hurts her when a student like me from minorities comes and stays in the college for free and eats free food in the college dining hall and gets entire education sponsored from the state government.”

His statement also added that the professor also made remarks on his fair skin colour.

Vijay Oberoi is from SC community and has a caste certificate from the Maharashtra Government. He has lost his both parent. He was asked to redo his field work spanning 30 days. He alleged that, after submitting it in June 2018, Prof. Maitra repeated that, “she feels immense pain when a person of caste walks away with a degree”. Maitra didn’t respond to his messages and emails asking for evaluation until August 25, 2018, According to the statement of Oberoi.

He also alleged that he yet has to receive the repaid the fees he paid to the college, as he has received central governments Post Matric Scholarship for SC students.

He further said, professro Maitra tried to give him lowest marks possible to resolve the issue when the complaint was sent to SC/ST cell and to the Director of the University.

“I had initially told him we would conduct evaluation after August 25, 2018. But a few days prior he wrote to me saying he was in Kargil and had joined work and that he would be unable to come for the evaluation. To this, I wrote to him saying we could meet at a mutually convenient time. If not possible, I’ll have to go forward with the evaluation based on recordings and other documents submitted. However, he then wrote a complaint on August 24, 2018. On August 28, 2018 I found out that he had filed a complaint against me and was threatening suicide. We got together and decided that if he is distressed, let us finish the evaluation and let him graduate,” said Prof. Maitra contradicting his claims.

To the allegation of discrimination, Prof. Maitra responded, “What can I say? We received an email from the organisation in which he was placed for field work, saying he has been missing during the hours of field work. Our students are required to do 900 hours of field work across two years. If he wants to turn academic issues into caste discrimination, I have nothing to say. I have been at the institute for 28 years and this is the first time a student has made such an allegation.”

Not only professor Maitra has been alleged but other faculty members named Shalini Bharat, TISS Director; Jit Hazarika, Students Union president; SC/ST cell officer Avatthi Ramaiah and dean of student affairs Asha Banu Soletti has also been alleged.

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