PhD Harassment Story from IISER: “I will destroy your career”

I joined IISER Mohali as an Int.PhD student in Aug 2015 but I started my research from Dec. 2015 (2nd semester of Int. PhD course). I have a passion for research and so I started my research as early as possible and side by side I was doing the required course work for MS degree. My overall CPI is 7.0/10. Always I focused on research rather than coursework to think that I am an Int. PhD student as I have come here for research and I have to get my PhD. I sacrificed my course work because of research but at the end I had to quit my PhD programme and came home with an MS degree after 4 years (I completed MS degree from IISER Mohali in May 2019).

This is only because of my supervisor. I joined his lab approximately on 18th June 2016, from that day I didn’t miss any single day unless I had the exam. day. I gave everything to his lab but he mentally as well as physically tortured me a lot so that I had to quit the PhD programme. He used to shout at me each and every day three times, this started from Sep 2016, several times he came to slap me and to hold my neck, this is not like that I am a bad student, my behaviour is not good. In the institute every teacher in the department of chemistry know me very well, aware of my behaviour and as a student how I am. The kind of torture I suffered from him, to see that seniors used to come to me and asked why he tortured you like that, I had one answer: I don’t know. At the end, it was intolerable and in the 4thsemester (before entry in the PhD) I tried to change the lab. I went to another professor, he was almost ready to take me but my supervisor told him lies about me and that professor didn’t take me. He decided to throw me out from the Institute. That time I was too much afraid and hopeless, because I belong to a very poor family, my parents are labourers; in this family I dreamt to be a researcher, a scientist. The kind of struggle I have gone (and I’m going) through that God knows only. That time only one thing was in my mind if I left the IISER what will happen to my family. To think about my family, I begged and literally cried in front of him. Can you believe what he told me, “shouting at me, don’t show your crocodile tears huh! get out from here”. One meeting was arranged and they decided if I want to continue I have to stay in his Lab.

I didn’t have any option and agreed and completed my 4th semester and registered as a PhD student under him on Aug 2017 to think about my family’s financial condition only. But this time his torture became double, always he used to come to slap me even when I didn’t commit any mistake. Without any doubt I was the most hard working guy in his lab and my working style was also very clean from anyone else. He always used to tell me “I will destroy your career, I am not giving you any first authorship paper, at the end of PhD you have nothing”. Yet, I didn’t sound a bit also, silently every day I tolerated his torture and worked in lab like anything to think about my family only.

One day, he asked me about the project and I gave him answer to complete that project another one month is required, in return he said to me while shouting “this is my lab! you have to work according to me, within one week you have to complete this project; do you know what I can do otherwise? I will kick you from my left leg and you will be out from this lab, I will hold your neck and throw you out from this institute”. I have four publications and three publications from his lab. Among three, in ACS Catal. paper I have major contribution, yet he gave me 2nd authorship, whatever I have done in that paper from my own. That time I was broken, because I was working on that project from that day I had joined his lab. Anyhow, I convinced myself and clicked another project where he didn’t have 1% contribution also. At first, I was unable to deduce the structure of product and not understanding what product formed in actual. Something new happened, I showed the NMR to him, he tried to deduce the structure several times but failed. Then, one day I solved the NMR and deduce the structure of product and showed him, but he shouted at me and told me what nonsense you are talking about, this is not possible, don’t you have mind etc. After two weeks X-ray crystal structure came and we have seen that the product was that
whatever I deduced. That time he didn’t sound a bit also and went to his office, next day he came and shouting at me told, this is my lab, you have to listen to me, stop this project, you don’t have any right to continue this project in my lab, from now you will work for 2nd authorship only and included me with a PhD senior.

Day by day his torture was increasing, slowly frustration came, he
knew I was frustrated, yet he used to torture me more than before. There was a time because of frustration level I was about to go mad and I decided to attempt suicide but then I thought about my parents and decided to quit PhD programme. At the end to see my level of frustration my friends also advised me to leave that lab, otherwise he will kill you like that. May 2018, I quit PhD programme and according to the institute rule I had to spend another 6 months without any
scholarship to complete MS thesis. Whatever he told me, he did it, destroyed my career, gave me only co-authorship in papers even when I had major contribution in that paper. I couldn’t explain everything what happened to me each and every day, I told you a little bit what happened to me. But if both of us come face to face then everything will come in front of everyone very clearly.

I know whatever happened to me no one can change that but at least I want to save the future students. This is his habit to destroy one student’s life from each year. One student from his lab attempted suicide (almost died), while others left because of his torture. When a PhD senior (after completing 3 years of PhD) left, he used to tell me now it’s your turn, be ready for that and whatever he told he did this.

How long students like us will continue to suffer because of this kind of person! From my childhood, I learnt teachers are equivalent to god, but this is the first time I have seen a teacher like that who can do anything to destroy one student’s life. Before leaving IISER, I questioned him, “I am not a bad student, my behaviour is not bad also, I never showed my anger to you unlike others, I am the most hard working guy in your lab, I am capable to solve research problem by myself also, I am giving you good results as well, then why you tortured me like that which made me to take that decision.” He replied me, I don’t have any answer.

I am not remembering any single day from November 2016 to May 2018, he talked to me in proper manner, during this time period everyday he tortured me mentally. I didn’t do anything wrong to him, then why he ruined my career like that? I demand justice and his punishment. If we don’t take any action against him, in future he will do the similar things whatever he has been doing. I am mentally very strong and that’s why didn’t take any wrong step but if tomorrow one student again attempt suicide from his lab, we will feel guilty to think that if that time we did something against him, probably one student can be alive today. If others took action against him before me probably I shouldn’t suffer like that. They didn’t take any action but I want his punishment so that in near future students will be safe.

I request to honorable Prime Minister and MHRD to look into this matter.


11 Comments on “PhD Harassment Story from IISER: “I will destroy your career”

  1. This faculty should be kicked out of the institute and should be barred from taking any PhD student in any position. A research ethics committee should be formed for fact finding for providing due credit for already published work.


  2. this happens ….phd is a very entertaining degree but guide makes it harrassing for students.they dnt want to make you learn new things.


  3. Please stop calling them teachers. They are research scientists not teachers they can never be one. They dont have guts to be one too. All they can do is use govt. Funds send their kids abroad to work in a very well groomed professional life l and here they just treat their own students worst than laborers.

    I personally suggest rather than a P.hD join academics and earn a good bread.

    No one is gonna take action against them and they gonna be the same.
    But for education’s sake stop calling them teachers cauz teachers are someone who make the lives not desteoy them.


  4. All such things happen because staff have fixed tenure. Moreover the feeling of caste superiority also comes in. Many mediocre PIs cant accept good students. The administration will support one of their kind. Seen it all.


  5. We are deeply concerned and affected after reading your account. We strongly condemn misuse of power and any kind of harassment at workplace. We extend our support and would like to get in touch with you so that adequate preventive/corrective measures can be discussed with the institute. Please write to us at


  6. Dear, I understand that u tolerated everything for your family but don’t forget that u are more precious to Ur parents than a degree. I recently faced similar harrassment and quit my JRF position. But before coming I shouted and gave nice dose to my guide…he also tortured me after that but I didn’t keep mum… N I never thought of ending my life too because we need to understand that this is just a part of a journey…if it has ended today something will come up tmro…my guide accessed my emails and sent them back to me torturing me…now I have publicised the issue… The whole place knows about his deeds.
    My point is…don’t stay quiet…. shout out…be bold yar… Ur parents are there for u… Write a letter to the PM and HRD minister…send a copy to a newspaper…. We will support u if needed…shout out his name…if he wants to destroy Ur career take him down with u.. we students are not suppose to be treated like this.. be bold…n I am proud of Ur tolerance level.


  7. I still do not understand that why are you afraid to take his name even now…. stay bold, he has done what he has to, now you show that what you can do.



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