Deepa M Mohan, a PhD student at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, Kerala was first denied entry into the university laboratory. She alleged that once when she insisted she enter the laboratory, she was locked inside it. Nandakumar Kalarickal, the joint director of the International and Inter University Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, where Mohan was working, was reportedly behind these acts of aggression against Mohan.
And what was the reason for trying to scuttle Mohan's career? Her caste. Mohan alleges that she faced such tribulations in the university as she was a Dalit.
She had filed a complaint against the university Syndicate nearly a year back, but nothing materialised for long time. However, the Newsminute reports that the university has finally taken action against the accused professor and initiated a probe against him. He has been suspended from his position and will be terminated if found guilty.
"The syndicate meeting on Monday has recommended that a criminal case be filed against the professor under relevant sections of the SC/ST (Atrocities Prevention) Act. The professor has been asked to explain his conduct, failing which he would be terminated. For now, he has been removed from the post of Joint Director," reported Newsminute.
"I am happy that the syndicate took this decision after two years of my struggle. For almost a year, my travails at the university had become news, but then people lost interest. I was scared I would not get justice. But my recent Facebook post asking SFI President Sivadasan on why they never helped me went viral and stirred the controversy again. I did not want anyone to be punished, my only demand was that I should be allowed to study there," Mohan told Newsminute.
Speaking to Outlook on February 1 this year Mohan had said that she was relentlessly harassed and insulted in front of fellow students once she started her PhD in the university. She had completed her MPhil from the same institution. Mohan, who lives with her four-year-old daughter in a PG in Kottayam, admits that she had even broken down in class one day. She had also been branded a Maoist by the professor. None of the students came to her support either. She didn't have a chair to sit and had to work out of the library.
"Once when I made a PowerPoint presentation, he accused me of plagiarism in front of my fellow students. I stopped and cried because it was my work. Though everyone knew the truth, no one came to my support. My accuser had powerful Left connections. My family has been Left-leaning, so I felt betrayed. Then began the slow harassment. The (then) joint director would ensure I didn’t get study material and locked me out of the lab. I was once locked in the building. I am a heart patient, so I called the police to rescue me. After continuous harassment, I met the pro-VC, and learnt that the joint director had said he wouldn’t show any favour to Dalits because that would lower the discipline of the centre," she writes.
The harassment didn't stop at the university. A group called Prottam, which Mohan says she had no connection with, put up posters in the university declaring that the professor who was harassing her will be killed. Mohan says that was a ploy to frame and trap her. The police swooped down on her in no time and started investigating her family, her husband who works in the Gulf and even went through her phone records of the past ten years. They couldn't find anything suspicious about her.
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