MGU removes Kalarikkal from the post of Centre Director. Here's why Deepa Mohanan is continuing her hunger strike

Deepa P Mohanan began her strike on October 29, alleging caste-based discrimination by her centre director Dr Nandakumar Kalarikkal
Pic: EdexLive
Pic: EdexLive

The government of Kerala, on November 7, decided to remove Dr Nandakumar Kalarikkal from the position of Director of Mahatma Gandhi University's International and Inter-University Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, owing to a hunger strike by PhD scholar Deepa P Mohanan. Deepa had begun her strike on October 29, alleging caste-based discrimination by Kalarikkal. Despite the recent decision, Deepa is still continuing her strike.

"The MG University Vice-Chancellor has taken over the post of the IIUCNN director, replacing the accused professor Dr Nandakumar Kalarikkal. Meanwhile, let me reiterate that every assurance given to Deepa P Mohanan will be adhered to. Every necessary facility will be made accessible to her so she can complete her research work without any hindrance. The University, as well as the Department of Higher Education, will stand with Deepa in this regard," the state's Higher Education Minister Dr R Bindu tweeted. A press release issued by the VC Dr Sabu Thomas too says the same. "In order to facilitate Deepa's research, we have decided to allot her lab and hostel facilities, a fee waiver and a new research guide. Also, the Vice-Chancellor will take charge as the Institute director, replacing Dr Nandakumar Kalarikkal," it reads.

Previously, Thomas told EdexLive that the university is also giving an additional fellowship to Deepa. "We really want her to finish her research soon," he said, a few days back. Two years ago, when Deepa had made similar claims, Thomas and Kalarikkal told EdexLive that she hadn't completed even one experiment related to her research. However, both the professors were unavailable for a comment on the recent developments.

READ ALSO : MGU Dalit scholar, detained during Governor's visit, claims she is a victim of caste discrimination

Now, why is Deepa still striking? While Deepa was not in a position to answer, owing to her ill health, Bhim Army Kerala Vice-President Sreejith Sreemon (Bhim Army has been supporting Deepa's hunger strike, along with other organisations) said that Deepa is waiting for a statement with the university's seal. "We were only sent the copy of the minutes of the meeting that was held at the university on Saturday (November 6). Even though it says that the VC is taking over as the institute director, it doesn't even mention Kalarikkal's name. We need an official letter addressed to Deepa saying that Kalarikkal will not be the institute in-charge until Deepa completes her research," he says. He added that the Bhim Army leaders are set to meet Thomas, again, today.

The university has also formed a committee with external members to oversee Deepa's research and another committee to investigate the allegations that she had made. Deepa, who joined the university in 2011 as a PhD scholar, on multiple occasions had alleged that she was unable to complete her research owing to caste-based discrimination and harassment by the faculty.

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