PESHAWAR: Although allegations of harassment of girl students at the hands of teachers at University of Peshawar (UoP) were raised several times, it may be the first time that a senior teacher, if found guilty, can be terminated or demoted.
The issue was being probed since March this year, however, in the light of the fact-finding committee set up under the employees efficiency and discipline statutes, the syndicate of UoP took a serious note of the matter and ordered probe into charges of misconduct against the dean of life and environmental sciences Dr Amir Nawaz.
As a consequence of the incident, occurred at the centre for disaster preparedness and management (CDPM) of the university, Dr Amir Nawaz has been suspended and an inquiry has been initiated against him. CDPM was also headed by Dr Amir Nawaz.
The inquiry committee set up by the syndicate is headed by former advocate general Muzzamil Khan. Other members of the committee include syndicate representative Fayyaz Ali Khan, a dean of University of Engineering and Technology Zahid Mohammad and a government official Sharafat Rabbani. The inquiry committee has been tasked to probe misconduct of the senior teacher as alleged by a girl student.
Syndicate of varsity orders inquiry against dean of life and environmental sciences
According to sources, the complainant, a student of CPDM, had recorded her statement, also in audio, twice before the fact-finding committee comprising senior teachers of the UoP. She was pressurised by a teacher, but later she came out with more details and recorded her statement, sources said.
The professor had allegedly asked the girl student to remove her veil for identification when she went to collect her mobile SIM, which she had lost and feared it might be misused as a boy student, who found it, had handed over it to Dr Amir Nawaz.
The sources, who heard the audio statement of the girl student, said that the senior teacher allegedly asked her to remove her veil in his closed-door office for identification.
The girl accused the senior teacher of harassment which also led to protest by students on the campus. A fake parent had also signed a “Razinama” (compromise) and termed the entire incident mere misunderstanding, sources said. However, the incident took a serious turn after the senior teacher was suspended and an inquiry was initiated against him.
The senior teacher will retire after two years. He is also associated with Tanzeem-i-Asatiza, the teachers’ wing of Jamaat-i-Islami, a partner in the coalition government in the province.
Whether it is political vendetta or syndicate of the university woke up after 10 months or so, the issue also echoed in provincial assembly and it is perhaps for the first time that harassment allegations are being probed against a senior teacher seriously.
The management of UoP earlier had terminated only junior or contract teachers after finding them guilty.
UoP registrar Dr Abul Hadi, when contacted, refused to give any details about the current inquiry. However, he confirmed the inquiry was still going on.
Earlier, in other cases, mostly ‘junior or contract teachers’ were punished for ‘misconduct’. In a harassment case, a teacher of history department, Zahid Ali, was found guilty but he was only transferred to another department. Mohsin Shehzad, a lecturer of institute of physics and electronics, was found guilty of misconduct and he was terminated.
The service of a contract teacher Mohammad Saeed at the institute of geology was terminated on charges of misconduct. However, the current case under probe itself shows that harassment, in one form or other, does exist in institutions of higher education.
Published in Dawn December 3rd , 2014