Kerala Prof Stripped of HOD Status for Backing Arrested Scholar
Can a professor of a Central varsity be stripped of his Head of the Department status for putting up a Facebook post in support a scholar who had been arrested for breaking the glass pane of a fire alarm at the university hostel?
If you ask Dr Prasad Pannian, he would probably say yes. According to an Indian Express report, the Central University of Karsagod on Friday, 7 September, removed Dr Pannian as the HOD of the department of English and Comparative Literature, after he put out a Facebook post criticising the arrest of Dalit scholar Ganthoti Nagaraju.
Referring to the scholar’s arrest in his Facebook post on 11 August, Dr Pannian had remarked that the fact “that an act of misdemeanour has been criminalised is deeply disturbing. As far as I understand, this is a minor offence that should have been settled on the campus itself.”
Describing Nagaraju as a senior research scholar and a Dalit activist, Dr Pannian, in his post, claimed that Nagaraju had “lost his mother a couple of months back” and was stressed, as he “had not been receiving his fellowship for quite some time.”
Dr Pannian ended his post condemning the arrest and asked the authorities to “immediately release the scholar.”
Reacting to the incident, the University’s Pro V-C Dr K Jayaprasad told The Indian Express that “Pannian had violated service rules” and had posted critical comments against the university in the past as well. The report also mentioned that the university, in a recent circular, had asked its staff to refrain from posting critical comments on social media.
Although the varsity has cited violation of service rules for stripping Dr Pannian of his HOD status, a report on The News Minute claims that such “arbitrary action or vengeful action” against students and professors have become common on campus.
In its report, the News Minute quoted a reliable source, who said “It is all happening to people who criticise the administration.” The report also mentions that a teacher’s increment had been cut, as he had come out in support of a suspended Associate Professor.
The report also mentioned that Akhil Jaya, a student of the University, was expelled after he reportedly wrote a critical Facebook post against the varsity administration.