Nima Wangdi

The police deployed a special investigation team last Sunday to probe the harassment case at Sherubtse College in Tashigang. The team, consisting of three police officers, is at the college and began work yesterday.

A senior police official said the investigation team was deployed after the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) forwarded the case to the police.

He said, “For now, we are uncertain about how long the investigation might take. The case will be submitted to the court once it is complete.”

A team from RUB also investigated the case and suspended the assistant lecturer on November 5. It then forwarded the case to the Tashigang police.

Towards the end of May this year, a group of 10 final year female students filed a harassment complaint against their lecturer, accusing him of various instances of unprofessional conduct, including body shaming and messaging them late at night.

As per the human resource regulations, the college conducted an investigation and submitted a report to the RUB. Then, they found evidence that the lecturer had made derogatory comments to some students, including body shaming.

Sherubtse College president, Tshering Wangdi, in an earlier interview said that after the investigation found evidence against the assistant lecturer, the management committee decided to withhold the assistant lecturer’s promotion until three years after completion of his master’s degree. The assistant lecturer was in service for the last five years and did not have a master’s degree.

It was also found that the assistant lecturer had texted some of the girls on multiple occasions via WhatsApp, inappropriately asking them to come for a ride in his car during odd hours. There were also allegations that the lecturer favoured male students in the class and discriminated against females, but concrete evidence was lacking.

Besides a withholding of promotion, the assistant lecturer was also given a final warning, stating that any further complaint against him would result in his termination without benefits. The assistant lecturer was given counselling and was not allowed to teach classes attended by the complainants.

The issue was soon discussed widely on social media. An online petition seeking harsher punishment for the assistant lecturer was also circulated for a few days. Close to 850 people signed the petition to expel the assistant lecturer from the college.

Many alleged the assistant lecturer was a repeat offender, accusing him of having been involved in a similar case while he was teaching at the College of Language and Cultural Studies (CLCS) in Taktse, Trongsa in 2019.

The earlier copy of the story wrongly mentioned the case as a sexual harassment case. It is a harassment case.