USA: Indian-Origin Professor Allegedly Used Students As "Slaves", Varsity Orders Inquiry
A reputed Indian-origin professor in the US has been accused to have exploited his students as servants, forcing his students to do personal work for him, according to an American daily called the Kansas City Star.
“Nothing more than modern slavery”
Professor Ashim Mitra, who teaches pharmacy in the University of Missouri-Kansas City, compelled his students to tend to his personal needs, often for weeks when he and his wife would be away. Reportedly, he would ask his students to look after his lawn, take care of his dog, and water the plants in his house. Quoting almost 12 of the professor’s students, the American daily reported that Mitra made his student bus tables and haul equipment at his social events.
According to his former student Kamesh Kuchimanchi, life at UMKC is “nothing more than modern slavery”, said a report by The Times of India. Exploiting cultural relationship with students from India, Mitra had threatened Kuchimanchi of throwing him out of the university and ensuring that he lost his visa if he denied working for him as a servant.
University accused of ignorance
Reportedly, Miridul Mukherji, a colleague of Mitra’s, had filed a lawsuit in 2016 and another in 2018 in Jackson County Circuit Court in an attempt to sue university officials and him. The university has been accused of knowing and ignoring Mitra’s behaviour towards his students and also overlooking several complaints, in pending litigation.
Court documents revealed that following a formal complaint filed by one of Mitra’s colleagues, only one student was questioned during the course of the university’s investigation. However, The University of Missouri-Kansas City will expand an inquiry into the professor as a response to the American daily’s investigation report.
Professor Mitra’s statement
“Over the years, I have invited graduate students to my home where they have done work related to their courses of study, and at times eaten meals prepared by my wife. I have not required anyone to perform chores unrelated to their studies,” Mitra said in a statement, through his attorney.
He further said that having worked with more than 60 graduate students over the years on F1 (study) visas, he is not aware of any of their visa status being challenged and revoked.
“Because he had the prestige, he could influence people. He could make things happen. For that reason, they were reluctant to come forward. So were most of Mitra’s pharmacy school colleagues,” a student was said.
The Logical Indian urges authorities to investigate the matter and take strict action against Professor Mitra.