Seven days after the hunger strike by Deepa P Mohanan, the Dalit scholar at Mahatma Gandhi University, Nandakumar Kalarickal, who served as the director of the International and Inter University Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IIUCNN), has been removed from the centre. A notice issued by the MG University Vice Chancellor Sabu Thomas mentioned that the post will be taken over by the Vice Chancellor himself. However, Deepa has questioned why the University order does not mention Nandkumar’s removal explicitly, and simply mentions that the VC will take over responsibilities.
Deepa P Mohanan is 36-year-old scholar from MGU, who is building wound-healing scaffolds through nanoparticles in an effort to advance nanomedicine has alleged that the university authorities have deliberately delayed the completion of her degree. In opposition to the discrimination, she has been sitting on a hunger strike since October 29 outside the International and Inter-University Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IIUCNN). The scientist joined this university in 2011 to pursue an M. Phil degree. She has done her masters in Medical Microbiology.
Deepa has been on a strike outside the university asking that Nandakumar Kalarickal be removed from the institute. She had alleged that it is because of caste discrimination by Nandakumar that her PhD, which was supposed to be completed in 2015, got extended till now. From preventing her from accessing the lab to denying her a seat at the workplace and even going to the extent of blocking her stipend, Nandakumar has made life really hard for her, Deepa alleged. Apart from this, Nandukumar had been rude and abusive towards her, Deepa said, and she believes it is because she was the only Dalit scholar in her batch.
Deepa alleged that he caused disruption in her education since the first year of her joining. She also alleged that he stopped her from accessing labs, chemicals and polymers. Not just that, he allegedly denied her seating at the workplace and blocked her stipend as well. In one instance, as reported by The News Minute, he had deliberately locked her inside the lab.
The university’s decision came after state Higher Education Minister R Bindu on November 6, Saturday promised Deepa that all measures to remove the professor from the centre will be taken. The Minister had said that if the university delays the procedure, the government will directly intervene to remove Nandakumar.
This is not the first time that Mohanan has gone public with her complaints against Kalarickal. She had filed a case of discrimination against him in 2015 too. At the time, an investigative committee confirmed Mohanan’s allegations and asked the university to provide her with facilities regarding research work. Then in 2016, she filed a police complaint against the same person under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Not just complaints, she has even tried to meet the Governor of Kerala with regards to the issue but was detained by the police and kept in custody for two days.
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