Ph.D. Harassment Story – My supervisor called me up in her chamber to let me know that she is “incompatible with me”.

Ph.D. Harassment Story – My supervisor called me up in her chamber to let me know that she is “incompatible with me”.


The Vice-Chancellor,

University of Calcutta.

Copies to:

1. Deputy Registrar (Acting),

University of Calcutta.

2. Chairman,

West Bengal Human Rights Commission,

3. Commissioner of Police,

Kolkata Police.

Dear Madam,

With deep regret, I am informing you that a case of serious mental harassment has taken place concerning me at the Centre for High-Performance Computing for Modern Biology Lab, Department of Microbiology, University of Calcutta.

I am a depression survivor and suffering from Bipolar Disorder related depression and anxiety problems and under medical treatment (along with psychological counseling) since 2013. The following is a list of medications that have been prescribed for me since 2013:-

1. Fluoxetine – several doses

2. Clonazepam- several doses

3. Risperidone

4. Lurasidone

5. Propranolol (extended release also- in several doses).

6. Melatonin as sleep aid.

In addition, I have to take antihistamines like Levocetrizine, Montelukast sodium and Fexofenadine for allergy-related problems.

I was working under Dr. Soumalee Basu of the Department of Microbiology as a scholar enrolled in the Department of Biophysics, University of Calcutta. I cleared the Research Entrance Test examination last December (2017). I was working in the same lab since September 2016.

A specific person in the lab, a scholar, AB has been harassing me since long. The magnitude of harassment has gone to the sky in the last few months in the version of abusive rants (citing my mental condition, my family, my sexual orientation, my secular political views, etc). I once stopped this person from spewing communally divisive venom in the Department. He even went to the extent of instigating me to commit suicide. I took several attempts to harm self in the last week although my consciousness had saved me in the last moment. This has caused my mental peace to get breached (which is punishable under Section 504 of IPC) and caused my family to undergo unnecessary pressure. My parents are over fifty and both are suffering from various kinds of illnesses and this kind of stress could have been fatal for them.

I have let my supervisor (Dr. Basu) know verbally about the things going on in the lab in her absence multiple times. She showed compassion and admitted the problem but nothing changed in the lab. She started to follow a very strict attendance discipline in the lab since April 2018 which mandates the persons to be present in the lab from 10:30 am in the morning to 7:00 pm in the evening. She mandated attendance on Saturdays also and unofficially, verbally encouraged us to come on holidays also. She maintains an exercise book as an attendance register in the lab which can be checked very easily for attendance records, if needed. On repeated requests, she didn’t send us the word file in which she typed in the “rules”.

My supervisor was well aware of my mental condition and treatment regimes. However, this strictness (with added insults from AB) has caused me to leave my hobbies (which were like rehabilitation for me) and even caused my treatment to get hampered for the last one and a half months.

In the laboratory WhatsApp group, only my absence in the laboratory for unavoidable reasons like the recurrent fever was pointed out which again caused panic attacks for me.

As you might know, the culture of letting others (in this case, officials or other faculties) know about the incidents inside a laboratory is not really the culture in science college as a spirit of unfair competition and in Freudian terms, superego is at work. We are always discouraged to discuss our lab matters with others.

Last Monday, my supervisor called me up in her chamber to let me know that she is “incompatible with me”. I don’t know what that really means. I let her know the things in details and said that I also, was feeling under panic in the lab for the last few months. However, she didn’t seem to take that into cognizance.

As far as I know, the Constitution of India does not really encourage this kind of discrimination based on mental health and multiple acts regarding the protection of rights for mental condition sufferers are in place.

I am letting you know now in the hope that you will be able to take strict steps against the said scholar, AB (who is also registered in the Department of Biophysics, University of Calcutta) and ensure proper justice for me to get back to sustainable psychological conditions.

Thanking you,

Yours truly,

Souparno Adhikary,

Erstwhile scholar at:


Department of Microbiology,

University of Calcutta.


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