MG University removes HOD on Dalit woman researcher's harassment complainttext_fields
Thiruvananthapuram: The Mahatma Gandhi University, at Kerala's Kottayam, has removed the head of its Nano Science and Technology Department following allegations of casteist harassment by a Dalit woman researcher.
The university, in a statement on Friday, said that Vice-Chancellor Sabu Thomas has removed Kalarickal from the post, and taken it over himself as he is also a renowned nanoscientist.
The research scholar has been conducting a protest fast in front of the MG University for the past ten days and the issue had become the centre of the media glare.
She has claimed that she was traumatised after facing caste-based discrimination in the Department and was not even allowed to sit in the laboratory. She also alleged that the Head of Department had even locked her inside the laboratory after she complained against him.
Deepa Mohan also said that she was prevented from getting admission to the PhD course in the department despite having qualified the GATE exam. She also said that she had successfully passed her MPhil course in 2012 but her certificate was not released till 2015.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, who is also the Chancellor of the MG University, had met the Vice-Chancellor and directed him to take immediate action against the Professor.
University sources revealed that the Vice-Chancellor had met the Governor to apprise him of the action to be taken against Kalarickal.
However, Deepa Mohan said that the action against the Professor was just an eyewash and her demand was to dismiss him from the University. Speaking to media persons, she also demanded that the Vice-Chancellor must also be removed.
Earlier on Saturday, state Higher Education Minister, Professor R. Bindu had publicly asked the University as to why the professor concerned was not being removed from his post. The Minister also said the state government had intervened to ensure that MG university authorities stand by the student, look at the issue from her perspective, and resolve her concerns accordingly.
"What we have come to learn now is this. The VC has assured Deepa that she will be able to complete her research without any social or technical hindrance. She would have access to all necessary infra, including library-lab-hostel facilities. The VC himself would act as her guide. Deepa had also been open to these suggestions," Bindu said.
She added both the High Court and the SC/ST commission had earlier intervened in the issue in response to the student's complaints and the government was of the view that the varsity, after considering these interventions, should take efforts to resolve her complaint as soon as possible.
Bindu said if the decision to replace the accused teacher continues to remain pending, authorities will be specifically instructed to ask the teacher to step down and requested the student to consider this as an assurance from the side of the government and withdraw from the strike.
The 36-year-old student has been on a hunger strike demanding access to resources needed to complete her PhD, a change in her research guide, and the removal of Nandakumar, the director of the International and Inter-University Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IIUCNN), from the institute.
She has alleged that Nandakumar has been hampering her research work. The university had on November 1, promised to fulfil all her demands except the removal of the director, following which she continued her protest.
Deepa Mohanan claimed that for the last ten years, her studies were affected due to the actions of the director of the institute, allegedly because she is a Dalit.
The Congress party had come out in support of the student