The below incident was reported by Pakistan Today in October 2019. As we have always maintained, countries and locations did not matter, pattern for false accusations in the name of #MeToo were similar globally. In the bargain, many Men lost their lives – some names were reported, while some died in silent suffering.
The below case resulted in the suicide of a lecturer of MAO College, who ended life after being accused of harassment by one of his female students.
Muhammad Afzal Mehmood, a lecturer of English Literature, was accused of harassment by a student of BS (bachelor of science) Mass Communication; a claim which the late teacher refuted and which turned out to be unfounded by the college harassment committee assigned to probe into the matter.
However, college authorities failed to formally clear Afzal’s name by not issuing him a letter of exoneration.
Letter to Inquiry Committee
Afzal had explained the ordeal of facing false harassment charges in his letter to committee officer, Dr Aalia Rehman. He moaned that the false harassment accusation has tarnished his image, ruined his career, and disturbed his family life. His wife had left him following the allegations, leaving him devastated.
He requested the inquiry officer Alia Rehman to rusticate the student of Mass Communication department, who had levelled false allegations on him, since he was cleared in the inquiry and awaited justice. He demanded the management to take actions, which would have restored his image in the college.
Adding further, Afzal had said that if something happened to him, he requested the college management to give his salary to his mother and a Good Will certificate honouring him, clearing the disgrace brought to his name following the false allegations. He had written the letter to exonerate him from the charges on October 08, 2019, while he died by suicide on October 09, 2019. In the letter, he had pleaded,
I beg you again to get my name and reputation at college cleared…
Afzal left a suicide note (the day on which he reportedly died by consuming poison), wherein he wrote,
I leave the matter in the court of Allah. The police are requested not to investigate and bother anybody.
Investigation by College Authorities
College authorities confirmed that Afzal was asked to appear before the harassment committee when allegations against him first emerged on July 8, 2019.
Talking to Pakistan Today back then, enquiry officer Dr Aalia Rehman said that the nature of the allegations were “flimsy to say the least” and did not warrant official proceedings. She said that a small-scale enquiry was conducted which resulted in vindicating Afzal.
Dr Rehman also said that no physical harassment on part of the late lecturer was reported. She added,
A Mass Com student submitted an application against Afzal which stated that his conduct with female students was inappropriate. The student said that the professor was in the habit of making suggestive remarks and gestures which made female students uncomfortable.
We found that Afzal had turned down the girl’s request to improve her marks which led her to write an application accusing him of harassment.
According to the enquiry officer, proceedings were completed on July 13, 2019 and a report was submitted to the principal’s office subsequently, following which Afzal was ‘verbally’ informed that he had been cleared of the charge. Dr Rehman then said,
However, Afzal insisted that he be issued an exoneration letter since he had absolutely nothing to show for his innocence.
Dr Rehman revealed that Afzal feared that he would be retried and charged under the Provincial Efficiency and Disciplinary Act (PEDA) since he believed that the proceedings had not not been formally concluded.
He felt that he had been maligned by the accusations and therefore kept on asking for an official notification. I told him that he should contact the principal since he is the one who has the authority to issue such a notification.
Dr Rehman then said that she wasn’t aware whether Prof Afzal had contacted the college principal, Professor Farhan Ebadat Khan.
Statement from College Principal
Commenting on the issue, MAO College Principal Farhan Ebadat had told Pakistan Today that Afzal’s case was dealt entirely by the harassment committee and the decision to issue a written clarification had to be made by the enquiry officer heading the probe.
He claimed that he didn’t have any involvement in the committee’s affairs and that at no point during and after the enquiry was he approached by the deceased lecturer. Khan then quoted,
I understand the sort of troubles my colleague Afzal had to face but I assure you that I, in my capacity as principal, only wished him well.
Khan alleged that a smear campaign had been launched against him by certain quarters of the press who were looking to malign him by implicating him in Afzal’s death.
Was Any Action Taken Against Female Student For False Accusation?
When asked what action had been taken against the female student for levelling a false accusation against her teacher, Khan said no action had yet been taken against the student. He concluded,
The enquiry committee is responsible to punish the false accuser. However, no such suggestion has reached my office till date.
Principal Khan Sacked
Later as per another report dated October 29, 2019, the Punjab Higher Education Department finally removed Dr. Farhan Ebadat Khan from his post with immediate effect. He was reportedly found ‘negligent’ in the case involving harassment allegations against deceased lecturer Afzal Mehmood, which provoked the latter to die by suicide.
Afzal’s suicide was highlighted by both social as well as mainstream media as Misuse of #MeToo which allegedly does not allow accused persons to present their version of the story. It was claimed that media does not allow sufficient space to the Men’s version in any story which is leading the society towards cultural chaos.
According to details, the summary issued by the education department had called for action against the principal, saying his attitude was “very rude and lethargic”.
The report further stated that Dr Khan had failed to take necessary measures to address the concerns of the late lecturer despite him having been proven not guilty by the college harassment committee.
- While we saw some action in the sacking of the principal, in India we have still not seen anyone being held accountable for false cases against Men
- Sadly, any action taken after the victim’s death, is also very late, and a mere tokenism for his family
- #MeToo movement is a tool used by women outside the purview of courts and legal system of any country
- Random naming shaming men, without allowing the other side to present his side, was reduced to an exercise of settling score or fixing the man if he did not give into the woman’s demands
- Most often, it were the Men in power or in position of authority who faced these one sided accusations
- Many chose to remain mum, while some like Afzal felt the only way to gain their respect back was by ending life
- Suicide is not a solution, as much as cliché it may sound – the only people who suffer after you are gone are your old parents – justice is then irrelevant
- Sadly, even today, the power of feminist lobby is so strong, that we have not seen any stringent action against any Woman globally, who has caught levelling false #MeToo allegations against Men
- Only recently in India, the Bombay High Court has barred media/social media to publish names/identities of both parties involved in Sexual Harassment Cases at Workplaces. Read Here
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