Prof Pallavi Deka Buzarboruah: When research supervisor turns plagiarist!

Even as the issue of sexual harassment in Dibrugarh University has taken centre stage, the varsity administration has now been accused of overlooking the issue of plagiarism by one of its faculty members.

Pallavi Deka Buzarboruah, a professor of Assamese department in the university, was accused of plagiarism few months back, but the varsity administration allegedly overlooked the allegations and maintained complete silence.

Diganta Oza, a Guwahati-based writer and journalist, accused professor Buzarboruah of plagiarism.

Oza in his two articles appeared in Amar Asom, an Assamese daily published from Guwahati, on July 26, 2018 and August 24, 2018, had exposed how Buzarboruah, who happened to be a research supervisor in the university as well, plagiarised most parts of a book by her, Goveshonar Paddhatibijyan (Methodology of Research).

Oza adequately pointed out how professor Deka copied words and ideas from a Bengali book titled, Goveshana: Prakaran O Paddhati (Types and Method of Research) by Surabhi Bandopadhyay, without giving any credit to the author.

Professor Deka, however, in an article subsequently appeared in the newspaper, termed the allegations as ‘baseless’.

But what was shocking was the total silence on the part of the varsity administration and its complete indifference.

Sources said the administration neither sought any explanation from the ‘accused’ professor nor initiated any inquiry against her.

“It is very unfortunate that the varsity administration has overlooked the plagiarism allegations against the faculty member. The authorities should have conducted a probe right away,” said a research scholar of the university on condition of anonymity.

Professor Deka was not only accused of plagiarism, there were also allegations against her that she pressurised a girl student of the university, to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint that the latter had filed against Dambarudhar Nath, a former professor of history in the university.

As per the new regulations on plagiarism drafted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and approved by human resource development (HRD) ministry, teachers found guilty of plagiarism could lose their jobs.

According to the UGC (Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Education Institutions) Regulations, 2018, teachers whose academic and research papers have similarities ranging from 10 per cent to 40 per cent with other papers will be asked to withdraw the manuscript.

In case the similarities are between 40 per cent and 60 per cent, they will not be allowed to supervise new masters, MPhil, PhD students for two years and will also be denied the right to one annual increment.

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