Professor's 'overtures' cause furore at UoP

Aug 23, 2012, 07:51 IST | Niranjan Medhekar

Female students of Physical Education Department accuse professor of misbehaviour, ask vice-chancellor to sack him after learning he 'assaulted' a colleague recently

The alleged actions of an assistant professor with the Physical Education Department of the University of Pune (UoP) seems to have sent the students of the institution into a tizzy of sorts yesterday afternoon and they are now demanding that he be sacked immediately.

On August 13, Santosh Kamble, who has been on the rolls since the past year, assaulted Professor Vishnu Pethkar, who has been with the university since 2008 and is from the same department as his alleged tormentor. Pethkar tendered his resignation following the incident for fear of being assaulted again by Kamble.

All ears: Vice-Chancellor  Dr W N Gade, speaks to students of the Department of Physical Education after meeting the staff yesterday. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

When the students found out why Pethkar was not attending classes since the past few days, they boycotted classes since the past four days and sought stern action against Kamble. Eight girl students in Kamble’s department also accused him of inappropriate behaviour. They claim that he has proposed to them, sent them friend requests on a popular social networking site and invited them for coffee at a hotel.

The matter came to a head yesterday afternoon and the students of the department unanimously demanded that Vice-Chancellor of UoP Dr W N Gade sack Kamble with immediate effect. They also submitted a written complaint with Gade apprising him of the professor’s alleged overtures.

Gade called a meeting with the staff of the Physical Education Department to discuss the matter. Kamble was then issued with a warning to get his act together within the next six months. “Kamble sir had directly proposed to many of us before. Even girls of last year’s batch have suffered because of his ill-behaviour,” said a student on condition of anonymity.

She added that Kamble had started asking them for their mobile numbers, making friend request on a networking site, asking them to join him for coffee off campus. Confirming that girl students of the Physical Education department had given him a written complaint yesterday morning against Kamble, Gade said, “This is really unfortunate. Such kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated. I strictly warned Kamble to change his behaviour and have given him six months. All other staff in the department has also been warned.”

He added that though he was empowered to sack anyone, it could not be done overnight as he had to follow procedure. “But I am taking serious note of this issue and if things do not change, as an administrator I have many options,” Gade said.

When questioned about the allegations the students were making against him, Kamble said, “I have put up my side to the VC. He gave me six months. I don’t want to comment on any allegations.”

The police were called in to ensure that the matter did not get out of hand. Students gathered around Gade after he met with the staff of the department and demanded why he was not taking any strong action against Kamble. 

Ripple effect?
On the backdrop of the brawl between Kamble and Pethkar, three other teachers submitted their resignations to HoD Dr B R Shejwal of the physical education department. “Assistant professor Suman Pandey, teaching associates Abhijit Kadam and Pramod Karpe have submitted their resignations. All resignation are on hold and not forwarded to the VC,” Shejwal said.

Bunking classes
Students of the physical education department have not been attending classes since the past four days. “We will not going to attend lectures till strict action is taken against Kamble. We have all decided to wait till Saturday for some action,” told students.

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