Although it is not Serohi Nandan’s partner who had faced sexual harassment in this case, the identity of the aggrieved woman should be irrelevant. The enquiry carried out by the organisation has given us sufficient reason to believe that it is a clear case of sexual harassment and therefore strong punitive action has been taken against the leading activist even before the GSCASH complaint was filed. Despite being in the organisation for a long time, Serohi Nandan’s irresponsible behaviour shows his failure to internalise the politics DSU upholds. We consider this to be a betrayal of our fight against patriarchy as well as the general principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. DSU has taken punitive action organisationally, and now it is up to GSCASH to deliver justice as an institution which is entrusted to deal with this kind of issues. We are confident, that the GSCASH verdict will vindicate our stand and deliver justice to the aggrieved woman.
The slander campaigns by a certain section of the campus do not come to us as a surprise. In a campus where politics is synonymous with elections and garnering votes by any means, shielding sexual harassers by organisations is the usual practice. The struggle against sexual harassment has suffered tremendously due to the non-serious and opportunistic approach adopted by almost all organisations. We would like to reiterate that suspending, enquiring against, and then expelling a leading activist and a fellow comrade has not been an easy task for us. But to be true to our politics of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, we saw no other course of action open to us that would do justice to the issue at hand. Our action is not just a vindication of MLM politics, but also an attempt to stay true a basic political ideal: that we are accountable to our political principles and the students of this campus, which is why the whole matter was made public by DSU instead of trying to keep quiet and taking a position only under pressure.
This action could be a beginning of militant assertion of women against sexual violence, and that is a cause for fear for many men and patriarchal interests on campus. Women and men in other organisations and also those not in any organisation are aware of the kind of harassment that is perpetrated, suffered, covered up and hardly ever brought to justice. The time now is to demand justice for each and every crime of sexual harassment, and violence against women in general.
Treating sexual harassers with leniency emboldens harassers in general. The tendency of overlooking such cases, or worse, shielding or defending harassers, as done by organisations such as SFI and AISA which claims itself to be ‘left’ or even ‘revolutionary’ essentially betrays the politics they claim to uphold. A breach of political principles in practice is something no communist organisation worth its name can endorse. The attitude of other organisations towards sexual harassment reduces the space of women to participate in politics or other public events and spaces. Anything less than an uncompromising struggle against patriarchal exploitation is inadequate and unacceptable. The DSU action is a step in that direction.
We strongly feel that this is an occasion for us all as a campus community, and not just as an organisation to reflect on what constitutes patriarchal behaviour in our ‘public’ and ‘private’ domains. None of us are "patriarchy-free" in that sense. As students committed to progressive politics, we need to undertake a prolonged and oftentimes difficult struggle against patriarchy to transform ourselves which is a part of the larger struggle for transforming the society. We must remember that even the progressives are not completely free from the entrenched patriarchal values. Therefore in a case where a leading activist of an organisation and someone who we took for granted to be progressive has been found guilty of sexual harassment, it is our responsibility to collectively reflect on the principles we uphold, how much we have internalised them, and to what extent they translate in our daily lives. To refuse to accept or even consider this, only serves to show the hypocrisy and refusal to really struggle against patriarchy in all its forms.