Aligarh/New Delhi, Feb 21 : The suspension of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) professor Shrinivas Ramachandra Siras over his alleged involvement in a gay sex scandal has pitted the AMU administration and gay rights activists against each other - with the former accusing him of violating "cultural" norms and the latter of trampling their rights.
Professor Siras was allegedly filmed having consensual gay sex with a local rickshaw puller. When the matter was brought to the notice of the college authorities he was suspended Feb 9.
However, Siras has contested the charges by saying that whatever he was doing in his home was his personal matter and he had committed no academic crime.
Three people posing as journalists barged into his campus home Feb 8 and installed secret cameras to catch him having consensual gay sex with a rickshaw puller. They then sent the video clipping to the university administration.
Gay rights activists have openly come out in support of Siras.
"Those who barged into his house, invaded his privacy and installed cameras in his house should be immediately booked under the relevant legal sections. However, it is ridiculous to see institutions of such repute like AMU take irresponsible action by firing the professor for a crime that isn't a crime by law, and without conducting any inquiry," gay rights activist Mohnish Malhotra told IANS.
Siras was serving as chairman of the Modern Indian Languages department at AMU and was set to retire in September.
Meanwhile, the moral brigade in AMU has swung into action demanding the termination of the professor's services. A section of students has approved the action taken by the university authorities to suspend the "guilty" professor.
"We are going to launch a signature campaign in the university, to be submitted with a letter to the ministry of human resource development, to stop the 'cultural assassination' in the Aligarh Muslim University. We will demand termination of service of the professor," said Jasim Mohammed, who is pursuing a Phd in Indian Languages and Culture, from AMU.
He said that a university like AMU with its unique culture "cannot tolerate such unnatural activity in its premises".
The AMU Public Relations Officer, Rahat Abrar, said: "Such an act (homosexuality) is not appropriate for a teacher, so we took action against him. The varsity will soon produce a chargesheet against him."
Siras has decided to challenge his suspension in court.
"Yes, I am going to challenge the suspension order in court as I have done no wrong against the larger interest of the university or any individual," Siras told IANS over phone from Aligarh.
"If the professor goes to court to challenge his suspension, then the university will definitely contest him in court," the AMU PRO said.
Since Siras hasn't so far got the chargesheet against him, he said he is consulting his lawyer to lodge a police complaint against those who secretly entered his house and filmed him having consensual gay sex with the rickshaw puller.
Most of the AMU teachers IANS spoke to have termed the entire episode as unfortunate and condemnable. They said that the most important issue of breach of privacy has been buried under the carpet and the not so significant matter of homosexuality has been blown out of proportion.