Caste related crimes or biases are on a rise in the country. Either it is Hathras in the north or Kottayam in the south, the discrimination towards the lower caste is increasing by the day.
After seven days of hunger strike, it looks like Deepa M Mohanan, the Dalit scholar from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, Kerala finally will receive justice as a notice by Vice-Chancellor Sabu Thomas reveals that the director of the International and Inter-University Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IIUCNN), Nandakumar Kalarikkal has been removed.
Mohanan began a hunger strike outside the university demanding that Nandakumar be removed from the institute. She had claimed that her PhD that was supposed to be completed in 2015, got delayed till now because of the caste discrimination by Nandakumar. She said that she was not allowed to use the equipment in the lab, even a seat at the lab was forbidden to her and he went to the degree of obstructing her payment, Nandakumar has caused problems for her, Deepa affirmed. Aside from this, Nandakumar had been discourteous and oppressive towards her, Deepa said, and she believes it is on the grounds that she was the only Dalit scholar in her batch.
The university’s decision to remove the director only came after State Higher Education Minister R Bindu assured Deepa that all measures will be taken from the centre on November 6. He said that if the university delays the procedure, the government will directly intervene to remove Nandakumar.
When Mohanan’s complaint reached the university authorities’ ears, they agreed to all her demands, provide her with an environment to complete her research, provide her lab facilities and chemicals, even remove her guide Radhakrishnan EK except her demand to remove Nandakumar from the institute.
However, in the recent release following R Bindu’s statement, the VS of MG University has informed, “To complete the student’s (Deepa) research, we will give fees exemptions, will provide hostel and laboratory facilities and also provide a new guide for her research. Her research centre’s authority will be taken from Dr Nandakumar Kalarickal by the VC.” The position of the director will be filled by VC Thomas.
Though, Deepa and the organisation Bhim Army Kerala that assisted her hunger strike said that the decision of the university is to misguide them. One of the members of the organisation said, “Nandakumar is currently in a foreign country, so they temporarily took away his position. When he is back the position will be given back to him. The Vice-Chancellor is protecting him.”
The VC in his statement removing Nandakumar as the director also added that there were allegations that Deepa had not been following the regular academic procedures at the institute.
“As per PhD regulations, every student has to submit a half-yearly research development report. But since 2014 no such reports were received from Deepa,” he said.
VC added, “Her research guide Radhakrishnan KE had informed the university that he cannot be her guide anymore as she neither followed his instructions nor was her research progressing.”
The note says that the university had probed allegations raised by Deepa against Nandakumar. “Nandakumar has also complained that Deepa was making false allegations and she behaved in a way no research student should have behaved,” the statement said.
It was also said in the note that Deepa had two times asked to extend her research period. However, Deepa had alleged that she couldn’t finish it on time as she was denied facilities.
Deepa joined MG University 10 years ago to do her MPhil after doing a Masters in Medical Microbiology.