LAHORE – Two teachers of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Lahore have been suspended on charges of sexual harassment levelled by their students, TheNation reliably leant on Tuesday.

UVAS Registrar Dr Mohammad Afzal told this reporter that two former students of varsity wrote to Vice-Chancellor Prof Tallat Naseer Pasha a couple of weeks ago, alleging that Institute of Bio Chemistry Bio Technology (IBCBT) Director Professor Dr Masroor Elahi Babar had forced them to develop physical relations with them.

Meanwhile, he said, a female student of the same institute had submitted her affidavit to the VC, alleging that Assistant Professor Asif Nadeem had forced her for developing sexual relations. The Registrar said that the VC had constituted a two-member fact-finding committee comprising two teachers of the varsity namely Dr Masood Rabbani and Dr Habib-ur-Rahman to probe into the issue. He said the committee recorded the statements of complainants and also some other students. But, he said, the committee had failed to investigate the matter and recommended that the accused should be suspended as, the committee thought, the fair investigation was not possible without suspension of the accused teachers. However, the committee did not record the statements of the accused and according to the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA) Act 2006, the committee should have to record the statements of the accused also. The registrar said, in the light of the recommendations of the committee, the VC suspended the accused and sealed their offices. He also constituted a fresh three-member committee on March 24 comprising senior professors namely Prof Dr Athar, Prof Dr Mohammad Ashraf and Prof Dr Abdullah to probe into matter. According to the registrar, the three-member committee will submit its report within 60 days.

The sources privy to development told TheNation that the committee had started the investigation. “The committee wrote the accused teachers to submit their replies on the issue separately. The accused submitted their separate replies, taking the plea that they are being victimised on personal grudge. They, in their replies, said their suspension was against the rule. And, they must be reinstated forthwith. They further said the fact-finding committee comprised junior teachers that had recommended their suspension due to professional rivalry,” the sources said.

One of the new committee members, requesting anonymity told TheNation that Dr Babar was working with the university since 2006 and he had never heard such things against him before. He said it might be a case of personality clash as Dr Babar was also a competitor for the vice-chancellorship but the issue would be clear in final report of the committee. He said he wondered that why did the students not complain when they were studying in the university. Dr Masroor Elahi Babar was not available for his version despite repeated requests on his cell phone.