Varsity head of dept removed amid casteist slur allegations in Kerala

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Mohanan has been on strike outside the university in Kottayam, seeking action against the head of the department. She alleged that she was supposed to complete her PhD in 2015, but it was prolonged due to the intervention of Nandakumar.

By HT Correspondent, Thiruvananthapuram

Following a week-long fast by Dalit scholar Deepa P Mohanan alleging casteist slur by the head of nanoscience and nanotechnology department at Mahatma Gandhi University, the university on Saturday removed Dr K Nandakumar from the position.

Mohanan has been on strike outside the university in Kottayam, seeking action against the head of the department. She alleged that she was supposed to complete her PhD in 2015, but it was prolonged due to the intervention of Nandakumar. She also alleged that he often verbally abused her and behaved rudely, and was singled out because she was the only Dalit among PhD students.

The action was taken by university vice-chancellor Sabu Thomas after the intervention of Kerala higher education minister R Bindhu. Earlier, the minister said the government will look into allegations raised by the scholar. Mohanan had joined MG University for a doctorate ten years ago after completing her masters in medical microbiology.

“We will help her complete the PhD. She will be given a fee concession, and a lab facility will be available to her. She will also be provided with a new guide. The research centre’s authority will be taken away from Nandakumar, and it will be vested with the VC,” the university said in a statement.

The statement also said Dr Nandakumar, who is abroad now, denied all charges and said she was making wild allegations after she failed to meet mandatory provisions of a research scholar. “Her period was extended twice still she failed to finish it on time,” it said. But Mohanan said she was denied access to the lab and other facilities deliberately, which delayed the whole process. Many Dalit bodies have extended support to her.

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