Two professors of Mumbai University — Bapu Chougle (57) and Nilesh Lohar (38) — were arrested from the Kalina campus yesterday on charges of molestation. Chougle is the head of the Physical Education department of the university, while Lohar is an assistant professor in the same department.
Three female staff members of the university had lodged complaints against the duo three months ago on the Mumbai police website. While one of them is an assistant professor in the department, the other is a librarian. The third complainant is a sweeper.
The accused had moved for anticipatory bail in the Sessions court thrice, but the court rejected their plea. On Thursday evening, the court issued orders to the BKC police to arrest the two men. The cops arrived at the university’s Kalina campus yesterday and picked them up from the Physical Education department.
The complainants said that the accused had been misbehaving with them for the past one year. One of them said, “Working there was a nightmare for all of us. They misbehaved with us in several ways. Sometimes they touched us, at other times they would relieve us from work late. I would live in fear all the time: even walking in the department was stressful.
We made several complaints to higher officials, but our voice was suppressed, possibly to protect the image of the university. Our complaint also went to the University Woman Development Cell (UWDC) but still no action was taken. We went to the police station many times but there too our case was never registered. At our insistence, only a non-cognisable complaint was taken. As the situation was becoming unbearable, we registered our complaints online on the Mumbai police website.”
From the website, the complaint letter was sent to the police commissioner, who in turn asked the zonal DCP to register a case immediately. The case was finally registered in October.
Another victim said, “On many occasions they would touch us unnecessarily. Despite several complaints they kept molesting us. I am very happy that they have finally been arrested. They should be punished severely.”
G G Patil, police inspector of BKC police station, said, “Both the accused were arrested at the Kalina campus. They were charged under Section 354, 506 (2) of Indian Penal Code. They were produced at the Bandra court. They have now been remanded in judicial custody.”
Asked why the police hadn’t addressed the complaints sooner, an investigation officer said, “University officials told us that it was their internal matter and they would investigate it personally and resolve it.”
Kranti Jejurkar, head of UWDC said, “We received a complaint and conducted an enquiry. Our investigations showed that the issue didn’t warrant arrests. However we have submitted our report to the vice-chancellor.