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University of Jammu students today protested on campus over the suicide of Professor Chander ShekharJammu: A Jammu University (JU) professor’s death by suicide, after he was suspended over allegations of sexual harassment of some students at the university, is snowballing into a major controversy.Dalit groups and the family of Professor Chander Shekhar have alleged that he was the victim of a conspiracy to prevent him from becoming the Head of the Department (HOD) of Psychology at JU later this month.Students today held protests on campus, demanding an independent probe into the death. They raised slogans against JU authorities and demanded justice for Dr Shekhar. On Wednesday, Dr Shekhar was found dead at his office. JU officials said he had died by suicide soon after the university issued his suspension order over allegations of sexual harassment.JU officials said 23 students had filed a complaint of sexual harassment on September 1. Subsequently, a committee was formed to inquire into the allegations. On Wednesday, university authorities said Dr Shekhar was suspended and barred from teaching, pending a final report from the inquiry committee.However, his family, Dalit groups and JU students have rejected the charges and demanded an independent probe. Dr Neeta, wife of Dr Shekhar, alleged that her husband was the target of a motivated campaign because of his caste. She claimed it was all done to deny him promotion as HOD.A resident of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, 45-year-old Dr Shekhar was teaching at JU for the last 15 years. “If there was not a single complaint against him in 15 years, then why did such a complaint surface just days before he was to take over as the Head of the Department,” said Mohinder Bhagat, a local Dalit leader. Demanding a CBI probe into the incident, representatives of various Scheduled Caste and OBC groups have threatened to launch an agitation if justice was not delivered.“We want a probe by CBI. In the meantime, government should take action against university authorities who suspended him without giving him a chance to explain his position,” said another leader.Dalit activists in Jammu have alleged that Professor Shekhar was wrongly implicated and he was a victim of rivalry in  the university. University officials said there may be occasional disagreements within the faculty, but that cannot certainly be the reason behind the suicide. “Disagreements could have been there, but not to the extent where someone had to take his life,” said Professor Prakash Anthal, the Dean of Students’ Welfare at JU. He further said that action was taken against Professor Shekhar after the inquiry committee submitted its report. He confirmed that soon after the suspension order, Professor Shekhar went to his room and committed suicide. “After allegations of sexual harassment by students, the Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) was constituted by Jammu University. Following its report, Professor Shekhar was suspended and barred from teaching and reviewing papers,” said Professor Anthal. He said there are video recordings of the statements made the students, alleging sexual harassment by Professor Shekhar.



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