LAHORE - A college teacher, who took poison last week over allegations of sexual harassment against him, died at a public hospital on Saturday.
Afzal Mehmood, an English teacher at Mayo College, was rushed to Jinnah Hospital as he attempted suicide by swallowing poisonous pills 10 days ago. Police said they found a ‘suicide note’, reading: “I leave this matter in the court of Allah, The police are requested not to investigate anyone.”
A girl student alleged the teacher was involved in levelling the charges of harassment. An internal inquiry, commissioned by the principal proved him innocent but the college administration hesitant to issue ‘any innocence certificate to him’.
Inquiry committee head Dr Aliya Rehman said: “The report clearly stated that harassment charges were false and Afzal was innocent. I also suggested stern action against the girl for being involved in hurling fake charges at him.”
Just a day before attempting suicide, the deceased reported to have made a request to the committee head for releasing a innocence certificate. He requested the inquiry officer to hand over his innocence certificate and his salary to his mother if he dies during this period.
He continued: “You told me that I have been cleared of the harassment allegation but I am still under extreme stress as the case is known by the whole college and until the admin will not give me in writing that the allegations were baseless. I will always be considered a person with bad character. I beg you to reopen the inquiry and rusticate the girl for hurling fake charges at him. Marking on merit is my fault. My family life is disturbed and my wife left me.”
According to a private news channel, the body handed over to the family after they expressed unwillingness to file a case. Principal Dr Farhan Ibadat told the channel that he had ordered an inquiry after receiving a harassment complaint from a girl student. He said Dr Aliya Rehman, who was overseeing the inquiry, had informed Muhammad Afzal that he was innocent.
Dr Farhan confirmed the authenticity of the letter. This case became a topic of debate on the social media after the lecturer’s letter to Dr Alia Rehman and his suicide note surfaced on Twitter and several Facebook groups.
Singer cum actor Ali Zafar tweeted, “Mr Afzal, Lecturer at Govt MAO College Lahore commits suicide after fake harassment allegations. Leaves a suicide note as his wife leaves him & his reputation tarnished. How many will speak up for him now? How many will speak up against the misuse of #Metoo. Who is responsible?
A human rights activist Hassan Niazi tweeted, “I was condemned when I said we should speak against the Misuse of MeToo in Pakistan. Professor of MAO College commits suicide after girl blackmailed him. Laws must be made against such Blackmailers. Meesha Shafi u must be answerable for this. Or condemn such girls. #MisuseOfMeToo”
Dr Farhan said Afzal had demanded a written response to his letter. He said that it takes some time to reply to a letter but the lecturer ended his life the very next day.
According to sources, the Punjab Higher Education Department also issued a summery, expressing concerns over the attitude of MAO College Principal Dr Farhan Ebadat Yar Khan over this attitude.
He did not take action nor did he initiate nay inquiry on the reasons for his suicide. Sources say HED’s summary has recommended strict action against him.