Government College University: Woman put on committee probing harassment claim

Faculty members question two-week delay in start of investigation.

Aroosa Shaukat February 05, 2013
Faculty members also criticised the vice chancellor for delaying the formation of the investigation committee till the complaint was reported in the press. PHOTO: FILE


The Government College University has reformed a committee to investigate a sexual harassment complaint by a student against a teacher, after objections that the committee did not include a woman.

Faculty members also criticised the vice chancellor for delaying the formation of the investigation committee till the complaint was reported in the press.

Vice Chancellor Dr Khaleequr Rehman formed the committee on January 30 to investigate the complaint against Sheikh Nadeem Ahmed, a lecturer at the political science department, more than two weeks after he first heard of it. The teacher was suspended and his entry on campus banned.

Prof Mohammad Zakria Butt, research director at GCU, was appointed convener of the committee and chief librarian Abdul Waheed and history department chair Prof Muhammad Ibrahim as members.

GCU Academic Staff Association President Prof Hassan Shah said that the association had objected to the absence of a female faculty member on the committee, as well as the inclusion of a “non-teacher”, that is, the chief librarian.

On February 4, the committee was reconstituted to include Prof Nusrat Jehan, chair of the zoology department. Prof Ibrahim was also replaced by a senior professor, Dr Muhammad Iqbal Shahid, chair of the Persian department.

Though Prof Shah of the ASA said that the university had assured the association that the chief librarian would not be part of the reconstituted committee, GCU spokesman Musaddiq Sultan reported that Waheed was still on it.

Prof Shah said that the ASA was pleased that the university had included a woman on the inquiry committee, but added that the investigation should have begun sooner.

‘I’m innocent’

Ahmed, the accused lecturer, told The Express Tribune that he had been informed about the complaint against him by the vice chancellor on January 14. The vice chancellor, he said, told him to resign or prepare for an inquiry. “I chose the latter because I did nothing wrong,” added Ahmed, who has worked at GCU since 1995.

On January 17, Ahmed said, he was told not to come to the campus. On January 31, he received an official suspension notice. On February 4, he received a notice stating that he was allowed to set foot on the campus again, but he was still suspended.

The lecturer said that he was yet to receive a copy of the exact charges against him. He is to testify before the inquiry committee today (February 6).

Two-week lag

Dr Muhammad Asir Ajmal, a professor at the psychology department, questioned why the investigation had not begun sooner. “It came into the limelight only recently when the matter was reported in the media,” he said.

He said the vice chancellor should explain why he had waited two weeks from when he was first informed of the matter before starting formal proceedings. “I am not passing any judgments here, but there is a dire need to be impartial in such cases,” he added.

University officials said that a formal complaint of the incident had not been received until January 29, which was why the inquiry had not started before then. They stressed that the committee would be impartial and transparent.

“We have put the heads of four departments on the committee in order to ensure that the inquiry is impartial,” said Sultan, the GCU spokesman. “We are also taking strict measures to ensure that the student’s identity remains undisclosed to protect her from any distress.”

On February 2, the chief minister also set up a committee to investigate the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2013.


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