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S.R. Siras Death: AMU Professor Dr. S.R. Siras suicide under mysterious circumstances

Aligarh, April 8 (IANS) Mystery shrouds the death of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) gay teacher S.R. Siras with a police official saying Thursday that preliminary investigations revealed that he died "an unnatural death" while the autopsy failed to fix the exact cause of death.

Superintendent of Police Man Singh Chauhan told mediapersons that preliminary investigations had revealed the teacher "died an unnatural death". "The post-mortem report will come after detailed forensic examination," he added.

However, police Inspector R.C. Sharma told reporters at a different meeting, "The exact cause of the death is still not clear even after the post-mortem."

"The viscera has been preserved that would be sent for forensic examination. Hope it would establish the cause behind the death," he added.

Shrinivas Ramachandra Siras, 62, was found dead in his home here Wednesday. He was suspended by the university administration on charges of "gross misconduct" on campus after he was filmed engaging in consensual homosexual act with a rickshaw puller.

The police have not ruled out suicide by the teacher. His body was lying on his bed and blood was oozing out of his mouth.

The Allahabad High Court stayed Siras's suspension April 1 and asked the university to file a counter petition in four weeks.

Siras was the chairman of the Department of Modern Indian Languages at AMU and taught Marathi. He had refused to challenge the allegations against him.

Meanwhile, the AMU Thursday clarified that in pursuance of the interim court order, his suspension was withdrawn April 5 and he was reinstated in his post with immediate effect, pending final outcome of the disciplinary proceedings.

AMU Vice-Chancellor Abdul Azis said he had sent the letter for his reinstatement April 5, but the letter reached the department only on Thursday. The VC said he would investigate the cause of the delay.

The university also withdrew the order to Siras to vacate his university house at Medical Colony.

Insiders confided that Siras, a reader in the Modern Indian Languages department, was in utter desperation and feeling terribly isolated as no one came to his aid and he was virtually ostracised by the academic community.

In a statement, Vice-Chancellor Abdul Azis said the university was taken aback at the sudden "painful event" of the teacher's death and would ensure all help and assistance to the grieving family at this difficult juncture.

Siras was associated with AMU since 1988 as a lecturer of Marathi and was promoted as reader in 2003 under the Career Advancement Scheme.

Meanwhile, the AMU Teacher's Association (AMUTA) has demanded a high-level probe into the alleged suicide by Siras. "In view of the sensitive nature of the entire incident, an inquiry should be conducted whether by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) or by a judicial officer," said Jamshed Siddique, secretary of the AMUTA.

"He was subjected to severe harassment by the university authorities and was under intense mental pressure. To suspend a teacher without conducting a proper inquiry is unjustified and is another instance of the high-handed behaviour of the vice-chancellor," added Siddique. An emergency meeting of the AMUTA has been convened to take stock of the situation.

However, AMU spokesperson Rahat Abrar denied the allegation of harassment of Siras. "The university complied with the high court order pertaining to his suspension but the reinstatement order, issued April 5, could not be handed to Siras as he was out of town," he said.

On the other hand, Professor Sheikh Mastan, chairman of the Department of Modern Indian Languages, said he had no such information till Thursday morning. When Professor Mastan was given a copy of the reinstatement order by the University registrar shortly before noon, he refused to accept it as a back-dated document.

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