Eftikar Ahamed allegedly touched a female student inappropriately after she fell unconscious in the classroom.
Kasaragod-based Central University of Kerala (CUK) has placed an assistant professor of English under suspension, pending enquiry, after he was accused of sexually harassing a postgraduate student.
Assistant Professor B Eftikar Ahamed was also accused of engaging in prolonged lewd lectures under the guise of teaching poetry.
The CUK students had been on a strike demanding action against Ahamed, also a television talk show host and a motivational speaker.
He has been accused of inappropriately touching a student, who had fallen unconscious in the classroom. He allegedly accompanied the student to the university’s clinic, where he touched her despite protests by the semi-conscious student and the duty doctor.
In the suspension order, Vice-Chancellor in charge Prof KC Baiju stated that the CUK was forced to initiate disciplinary action against the teacher due to the seriousness of the charges levelled by the students.
He said the assistant professor has been sent on indefinite leave and that the next course of action would be soon decided.
After his suspension, the students temporarily suspended their agitation but threatened to boycott classes if the authorities ruled in favour of him.
The students also accused Ahamed of engaging in lewd and prolonged lectures with emphasis on different kinds of sexual positions under the guise of interpreting poetry and literature since 7 September, when the new academic year began at the CUK.
The students said they approached the university’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) after Ahamed “crossed all boundaries” and harassed a student who had fallen unconscious in the classroom.
South First spoke to student representatives, who said they lodged a seven-page complaint with the ICC on 14 November, describing 31 incidents of inappropriate behaviour by Ahamed.
The vice-chancellor issued the suspension order based on the recommendations of Prof KA Germina, presiding officer of the ICC, and S Asha, Head of the Department of English and Comparative Literature.
“In the light of certain complaints received from some students, the vice-chancellor has directed me to adopt necessary measures to ensure the safety of students,” Dr Asha said in a letter to Ahamed on 16 November. “I respectfully suggest that you refrain from teaching, grading, or mentoring until further notice.”
Despite the directive, Ahamed reportedly stayed in the department and frequently posted messages about the courses he was teaching in WhatsApp groups and on social media.
This infuriated the student body even more. Regardless of their political inclinations, all student organisations demanded his removal. They were planning to report the case to the police.
Over the past two weeks, several former CUK students come out in public accusing Ahamad of indulging in sexually-loaded conversations in class. Furthermore, the university’s medical officer stated that she had witnessed the teacher inappropriately touching the student at the health clinic.
“I was in the outpatient department at the time and the student was admitted to the observation room. I saw Ahamed inappropriately touching the student,” the doctor told reporters. ”The student tried to push him away, but she was tired. I froze, not knowing what to do,” she recounted.
Prof Baiju said that the ICC’s interim report held Ahamed prima facie guilty. The committee also found substance in the students’ claims that the teacher used poetry class as a cover to engage in lewd discussions in which women were reduced to simple sex objects.
Thirty-three students from CUK’s first semester MA English batch have complained about the teacher.
“Ahamad always indulged in conversations about sex, sexual pleasure, and other forms of pleasure, under the guise of interpreting poetry and literature,” the students said in their complaint. His presentations, they claimed, objectified women.
From 7 September to 14 November, they listed some of his alleged words and antics in classrooms. “Oral sex is the best form of communication,” he told the class, according to the complaint.
“Did you ever wonder why the bus driver is the happiest person on the bus? Because he gets to ‘touch’ a lot of people (women),” he reportedly said once.
The students alleged that during one of the seminars while discussing “cultural differences”, he asked one of the students if she would let him lick all over her, as was common in “German high society”.
“He moved around the room with stretched arms while teaching Preface to Canterbury Tales, indicating that he was looking for someone with a big forehead. He went on to say that a broad forehead was the hallmark of lustful women in mediaeval England.
“While discussing the poem, To His Coy Mistress, he gestured how penetration is described in the poem while ignoring the context,” the complaint said. The gesture was made while glancing at the female students in particular.
“He explained how seduction/temptation works by stating he would offer two sarees to one of our classmates to get her to his room, and added that she would agree but would demand three (sarees),” the students alleged.
“Recently, in class, he compared the poet’s passion to the fetish of smelling pants.” He explained it further by performing the same act. “He frequently gets extremely close to female students while talking outside classrooms, such as whispering in their ears or approaching them and sitting on their desks. This habit has made many students in our class uncomfortable,” the students said.
Students reported that recently he compared teaching to sexual intercourse. “You need to keep changing positions and techniques to not get bored,” he allegedly said.
Responding to the allegations via WhatsApp groups, Ahamed stated that the doctor made up the allegation that he had inappropriately touched the student. He stated he splashed water on the student’s face in an attempt to revive her.
He also said that there were 22 poems to teach in total, only four or five of which were sleazy. “What I say in class cannot be taken out of context and used against me. Can we take an anatomy class without talking about body parts,” he asked.
However, Ahamed admitted to the bus analogy saying it was made in the context of “cultural nuances.” He claimed to be friendly with students.
According to university sources, Ahamed has been teaching at various colleges for over 18 years. He was a faculty member at Kannur’s Krishna Menon Memorial Government Women’s College in 2011.
He was being investigated for making advances to a female student there. In 2015, some Kannur newspapers published a photograph of Ahamed getting a “Research Author’s Award” from actor Amitabh Bachchan. Ahamad said that the award was founded by Anu Books in Meerut.
The newspapers issued a correction the next day, claiming that the assistant professor supplied them with a doctored photo.
The original photograph, allegedly modified by Ahmad, showed Bachchan bestowing the Telugu Nandi Award on actor Mahesh Babu in 2013. He allegedly replaced Mahesh Babu’s face with his own in the photograph.