“If you take a stand then you will get suspended. This is what you get when you took a stand against sexual harassment. There is no justice left in this world and no women are safe here,” reacted Khanam over the suspension. She is also concerned about her safety.
She also alleged that she is being intimidated and pressurized by her college authorities to take back her complaint. Members of a right wing group held demonstrations against her on April 8 at the college.
The incident of harassment allegedly took place on April 2 when Khanam and her classmates were on a trip to Agra. Khanam says, “We were on a trip to Agra to visit Fatepur Sikri and Taj Mahal. There were two boys who got drunk in the bus and insisted I dance with them. When I refused one of them tried to force me to drape a BJP flag. I was the only female Muslim student among all 55 students and faculty members who accompanied us were aware of this, but did not take any action against the boys.”
Almost immediately after that she was trolled and a systematic campaign was launched online to discredit her.
Many even blamed her for playing the Muslim victim card.
Some people, allegedly friends of the accused boys, made a video of Khanam dancing on the bus viral on social media in a bid to show that she willingly participated in the fun on the trip. But Khanam says, “The video was shot before the boys harassed me. I was enjoying with my friends. Besides, this video doesn’t prove me wrong!”
Though the accused boys were suspended immediately, Khanam says now she is being pressurised to take back her complaint. In fact, now the college has suspended Khanam!
Principal SM Sharma not only confirmed Khanam’s suspension, but also tried to justify the decision. “Suspension is not rustication. Suspension is not punishment. She made an allegation, but now she has refused to come to the college and record her statement,” said Sharma. “We had suspended both boys as soon as we came to know about the incident, but in the absence of the girl’s statement before the college grievance committee, it appears that our action was a bit one sided.”
Meanwhile, a group of men allegedly affiliated with a local right wing group gathered at the college to demonstrate against Umam. The principal confirmed that the right wing men were indeed holding a demonstration. “They are demanding why action was not taken against the girl,” said Sharma.
Khanam says that the suspension is completely unwarranted and is a bid to intimidate her into taking back her complaint. “They want me to go to college to make the statement, but I fear for my safety. I haven’t gone to college since the incident. Everyone is against me, the students, the teachers and the entire administration. There are people from right wing groups demonstrating against me. How can I go to college,” she asks. “They are using this as an excuse to take action against me. But I will not back down. I am now filing a complaint with the SSP,” she said.