There have often been reports of people facing unintended consequences that ended up in public harassment and even jail because of posting weird activities on social media like Instagram, YouTube, Moj or Josh. However, Kolkata had been more or less free of such incidents of people facing unexpected consequences on this count.
However, in August this year, social media went viral with the news that a woman assistant professor of a reputed university in Kolkata was forced to quit her job for posting her pictures in swimsuits even before she had joined the university. Moreover, she was slapped with a defamation suit of Rs 99 crore by the university authorities for her follow-up action asking the university authorities to provide her with a copy of the complaint of a guardian on the basis of whose complaint the drastic action was taken against her.
However, in this case the woman assistant professor was lucky as instead of facing public harassment, civil society and netizens of the city supported her and criticised the university authorities for interfering in her personal life.
Kolkata’s St Xavier’s University had forced the woman professor to resign. This happened in October last year, but the matter came into the limelight in August this year following legal communication between the university authorities and the assistant professor after the latter took legal recourse.
The incident took place in October last year, when the father of a student complained to the university authorities that he caught his son viewing the swimsuit-clad pictures of the assistant professor that she posted on Instagram. The professor was summoned for her explanation.
She said that it was impossible for any of her students to access those pictures which she posted on Instagram two months before she joined the university, as by then the pictures would have gone automatically to the trash section. She had also argued that her Instagram profile was private and hence the pictures there cannot be viewed by anyone other than her followers.
She expressed apprehension that her Instagram profile might have been hacked. However, her arguments did not cut any ice and the university authorities gave her the option of either resigning or getting terminated. Opting for the first choice she resigned and then filed a FIR with the Kolkata police alleging that her Instagram account was hacked.
After filing the FIR, she sent a letter to the university through her lawyer asking for a copy of the complaint by the boy’s father. That letter irked the university authorities, who slapped her with a counter legal notice claiming that her letter was an “ill-motivated”, “desperate” and “dishonest” attempt to open a closed chapter, causing immense and irreparable damage to the image of the institute.
In the legal notice, the university authorities also sought compensation of Rs 99 crore. However, in this case instead of facing onslaughts on social media, the professor started getting support from the students of the university as well as the netizens. The students put up posters within the campus describing the decision to force the resignation of the professor as a reflection of the patriarchal mentality of the university authorities.
A social media campaign also started against this development which has been signed and commented on by thousands of people, including several former and present students of both the college and the university.
Almost a week after the matter went viral on social media, the university vice-chancellor spoke to the media and said that there was no pressure on the assistant professor to resign and claimed that she resigned accepting her lack of judgement in the matter. He also said that the university authorities respect the privacy of all teachers.
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