There is trouble at Gandhi's Gujarat Vidyapith (GV). Last Wednesday students of Kumar Vinay Mandir, a residential school on the campus protested against sexual abuse by a rector.
The protests were demonstrated by spinning the charkha on empty stomachs. Though initially peaceful, the hunger strike turned violent by evening compelling authorities to suspend the rector.
However, at that time itself another group of boys began to spin the charkhas demonstrating their support for the rector. Yet this later fizzled out after vociferous protests from the other quarter.
The students allege that the rector first tried to molest a class XII (science) student in February and then continued to make overtures to young boys. "I was sleeping in my room when he came to the room and bolted it from inside and lay down beside me. He started caressing me, jolting me out of my sleep. I ran out of the room. When I returned, the rector said he had only come to switch off the fan," a class XII student told media persons.
On informing his roommates about the incident, they complained to principal Vijay Vyas. "In the evening, the rector cried and pleaded that we withdraw the complaint and then threatened to issue leaving certificates," says a hostel inmate, Bhuriya. Under pressure, they withdrew the complaint.
However, when the rector continued with the abuse, the students submitted a written application to Vidyapith chancellor Sudarshan Iyengar saying they were forced to protest since the authorities had not taken action.
"We have seen him enter rooms of young students. And the victims have been talking, but are afraid to come out," reported a student.
Iyengar refused to comment on the issue. Registrar Dr Rajendra Khimani said an inquiry has been instituted into the incident and the student's parents had been called. "Upon his parents' suggestion, we may file a police complaint," Khimani said.
In response to the accusations, the rector says the students were reacting only because he was a strict disciplinarian. "We follow the Gandhian way of living here and I may have reprimanded some students for flouting it," the rector was reported.