The Haryana Police have lodged an FIR against Sameena Dalwai, a professor at OP Jindal University, on charges of harassing students and violating their privacy. The alleged offense involves displaying students’ profiles on a dating app within a classroom.
The complaint leading to the FIR was filed by Renu Bhatia, the chairperson of Haryana State Women’s Commission. Anjoo Mohun, the Chief Communication Officer at the university, stated that they will cooperate with the authorities in the ensuing steps. The FIR, filed under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code (pertaining to intending to insult the modesty of a woman), was registered at Rai police station on December 22.
Bhatia’s complaint alleges that Dalwai, a professor and assistant director at the Centre for Women, Law, and Social Change of Jindal Global Law School, engaged in the “fraudulent use of Bumble profile ID” and displayed multiple female students’ profiles during a classroom session.
An FIR under Section 509 (intending to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code was registered at Rai police station on December 22.
The complaint, addressed to the Sonipat police commissioner, describes the incident occurring on September 23, 2023, in the O.P. Jindal Global University classroom. Bhatia states that during an official visit on November 7, students confirmed the distressing incident. The complaint further claims that Professor Sameena not only confessed but also openly admitted in her reply to a show-cause notice that she was involved in creating accounts.
Mahinder Singh, station house officer, told The Print that the police had begun investigations in the case. “No arrest has been made so far,” he said.
Bhatia’s complaint against Dalwai — professor and assistant director at the Centre for Women, Law and Social Change of Jindal Global Law School — alleged that the professor had made “fraudulent use of Bumble (dating app) profile ID” and “exhibited several profiles of female students” in the classroom.
“I am writing to bring to your attention a serious incident that outraged the modesty of female students and the unauthorised and fraudulent use of Bumble profile ID by a professor in the class that exhibited several profiles of female students during such activity. I request your immediate intervention and appropriate action in this matter,” says the complaint.
“The incident occurred on 23 September 2023, in the classroom of… O.P. Jindal Global University, where Sameena Dalwai… committed the said acts,” alleges the complaint addressed to the Sonipat police commissioner, adding that “during my (Bhatia’s) official visit to the campus on 7 November, students confirmed the distressing incident”.
Bhatia’s compliant to the police says, “Professor Sameena has not only confessed but also openly admitted in her reply to show-cause notice to the (university) vice-chancellor ‘how to open a new account, etc’. that she was involved in the creation of accounts. Shockingly, the video testimonies provided by students to the HSCW chairperson further corroborate her admission, revealing that several fake accounts, including one impersonating (Congress leader) Rahul Gandhi, were orchestrated by the professor. This revelation unveils a disturbing pattern of coercion, as students were allegedly forced into impersonating others on dating apps.”
𝐀 𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐚𝐥 𝐛𝐲 𝐉𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐥 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐫 𝐃𝐫. 𝐀𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐕𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐢𝐤
Promoting academic freedom and fostering a supportive environment for young individuals are essential in equipping them with the capacity to… pic.twitter.com/Hqi9oy2WwM
— Renu W Bhatia (@RenuWBhatia1) November 17, 2023
Earlier this month, the Haryana State Commission for Women (HSCW) called for an FIR against the professor in the dating-app case. Despite the commission’s summons on December 6th, Dalwai did not appear.
The HSCW emphasised that the “safety, security, and dignity of the female students cannot be compromised merely because she has chosen not to appear before the commission.”
In September, Dalwai allegedly violated a student’s privacy by accessing their Bumble dating-app account in the classroom and displaying it on a Smart TV in front of other students. Video footage and screenshots circulating on X (formerly Twitter) showed the professor engaging in a detailed discussion about the dating account, allegedly belonging to a student. Reports suggest that when students refused to open their profiles, Dalwai instructed them to create fake IDs, even suggesting the use of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s picture.
After Dalwai failed to appear before the HSCW twice, Chairperson Renu Bhatia wrote to the Police commissioner, urging an FIR against her. Bhatia claimed that the HSCW had spoken to several university students, obtaining video evidence of their testimony against the professor.
Before the Bumble dating app controversy, an email by Sameena Dalwai surfaced, where she claimed that Hamas didn’t commit atrocities on Israeli civilians, dismissing it as ‘fake news by Indian troll armies.’ This email was reportedly written to individuals opposing a talk at the university by Professor Achin Vanaik, a retired professor of International Relations and former Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Delhi, now an activist.
The talk, titled ‘The History and Politics of the Palestinian Present,’ reportedly made statements condoning the terrorist activities of Hamas against Israel and glorifying ‘suicide bombing’ by terrorists.
Dr Sameena maintained that Hamas did not commit atrocities against Israeli civilians and dismissed it as ‘fake news spread by Indian troll armies’. She noted, “India’s response has been sad. Fake news of Hamas atrocity is created by Indian troll armies. We know their power – many of us get trolled regularly for our writing.”
Following these allegations, an anonymous student from Jindal University, in conversation with Organiser on November 4, gave some insights into the lecture by Prof. Achin Vanaik and Dr Sameena’s behaviour with the students.
The student mentioned that during his lecture, Vanaik justified the Pulwama attacks, arguing that they were a response to the state’s long-standing atrocities. He also criticised the foreign affairs minister, Dr S. Jaishankar, and questioned his credibility.
The student further stated that all the students with ideologies differing from the left were not given the opportunity to speak during the Q&A session.
According to a complaint letter obtained by Organiser, students assert that on September 23, 2023, Professor Sameena violated privacy boundaries by intruding into a student’s personal Bumble account, a dating app, during class time. This breach of privacy extended beyond her own class, affecting multiple students’ accounts within the university.
In response to students capturing images of the incident, she implemented an arbitrary ban on phones in her class and sent an email on September 24, 2023, which further heightened the distress experienced by the students. Organiser is in possession of this mail, which suggests students stick to notebooks and pens or laptops for making notes in her class. If any of them get caught with a phone, disciplinary action will be taken against them.
In their complaint letter, students called out the professor’s inappropriate conduct, which includes body shaming and the use of derogatory language, that has created an atmosphere of intimidation and emotional distress within the classroom. The students believe that such actions constitute sexual harassment under the Rules on Gender Sensitisation Against Sexual Harassment provided by JGU, and they represent serious human rights violations.
Additionally, her use of offensive language, particularly the term ‘CHUTIYA,’ is entirely unacceptable and demonstrates a lack of consideration for the dignity and respect that should be upheld in an educational environment. The repercussions of her behaviour have extended beyond the classroom, resulting in the spread of harmful rumours and ridicule that have had a significant impact on the mental well-being of students.
The students are urging the committee to launch a comprehensive and impartial investigation into these distressing incidents and recommend involving the Human Rights Commission and the Haryana State Commission for Women given the gravity of the situation.
When Organiser inquired about Dr Sameena’s behaviour, the interviewed student revealed that she frequently uses derogatory language towards students. On one occasion, she even verbally abused a female student and told her to stop attending her class, promising to grant her free attendance.
The student went on to mention that Dr. Sameena discriminates against students as soon as they express their ideological views. Additionally, she insists on receiving answers and interpretations of case studies in the manner she desires.