After Director, KR Narayan Film Institute's Chairman Adoor Gopalakrishnan resigns

Gopalakrishnan, while announcing his resignation at a press conference, supported the former director of the institute, Shankar Mohan
File photo of  KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts in Kerala | (Pic: Sourced)
File photo of KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts in Kerala | (Pic: Sourced)

It has been only about a week since filmmaker Shankar Mohan, director of KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts resigned from his post. A 49-day protest by a section of students and staff, alleging caste discrimination by him was the reason. Following this, on January 31, today, renowned filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan announced his resignation as chairman of the institute.

Gopalakrishnan, while announcing his resignation at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, supported Mohan, saying he was a well-respected professional who has been at the helm of various government-run film institutions in the last four decades. The filmmaker said Mohan had diligently worked with him during the last three years to bring KR Narayan institute back from the edge of ruin and turned it into one of the best film institutes in the country, as per a report by PTI.

"It is such a professional whom we invited here and then forced him to leave by levelling baseless, false and derogatory allegations against him and insulting him," Gopalakrishnan said. He also raised doubts regarding the findings of the initial enquiry committee, constituted by the Higher Education Department, and the subsequent inquiry commission, appointed on his request by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to look into the matter.

The controversy

Gopalakrishnan contended the committee never included him or Mohan in their enquiry and also did not appear to have carried out a proper investigation. He said the issue would not end with Mohan's resignation. In the wake of his announcement, State Higher Education Minister R Bindu said she saw no reason for Gopalakrishnan to resign in protest against the government as it was with his consent that the inquiry commission was appointed.

However, she added that if there was any fact or truth in the claims made by the filmmaker, then it would be examined by the government. The minister added that from her viewpoint, she did not deem it proper that the institute staff be used to clean the Director's house. Some students of the institute, on the other hand, asked for the inquiry reports to be made public, after Gopalakrishnan announced his decision.

Some non-teaching staff members of the institute stuck to their allegations, stating Mohan and his wife made them clean toilets and indulged in caste discrimination, though the resigning filmmaker reiterated that they were false. He also contended that it was some disgruntled staff members, a clerk, a PRO, a couple of teachers and a storekeeper, of the institution who were behind the controversy and instigated the students into holding a protest, as per PTI.

What happened?

The institute had been embroiled in controversy for some time after a section of students levelled charges against Mohan, who, in turn, claimed that allegations of caste discrimination were raised against him because he took a strong stand against corruption in the institution. The state government then appointed a two-member panel, comprising former chief secretary K Jayakumar and former Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) NK Jayakumar, to probe the matter.

They met the students and staff and collected the details about the allegations, which also included undermining reservation norms in students' admissions. Before this, a higher education department committee had recommended changing the director and conducting an investigation into the allegations against him.

The issue came to the fore after some cleaning staff of the institute complained the director's wife used to make them clean the toilets of her residence. Gopalakrishnan too had come under severe criticism from a section of former students after he allegedly backed Mohan and made a "slacker" comment against one of the teachers who supported the students' protest, as per PTI.

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