Dalit PhD student calls off hunger protest

Teacher to be relieved of IIUCNN charge

Eleven days after she launched a hunger strike at the entrance of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, against alleged caste discrimination, the Dalit PhD student on Monday called off her protest.

The decision to call off the protest followed her meeting with a varsity delegation led by Vice Chancellor Sabu Thomas in the evening.

Based on a demand raised by the student, the varsity has agreed to remove Nandakumar Kalarikkal, the accused teacher, completely from holding the charge of its International and Inter-University Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IIUCNN).

The accused teacher, according to the varsity, will not be holding any responsibilities with regard to the research programme pursued by the student. A decision with regard to ousting M. Charles Sebastian, a temporary employee of the varsity centre, too was made.

The varsity has also assured to extend the deadline for completing her research by four years from March 23 last year, a date set by the Kerala High Court for the same. Besides ensuring infrastructure for research, including laboratory, hostel and library facilities, she will be also awarded the University Research Fellowship for two years.

The university will also take necessary steps to clear the arrears due to the researcher as e-grant.

A three-member committee comprising M.H. Ilyas, Dean of the School of Gandhian Thought and Development Studies, and Syndicate members Shajila Beevi and Anitha. R has been constituted to look into other complaints raised by the researcher. This is in addition to a panel to evaluate and oversee the facilities provided by the university to the researcher. The committee comprises Mr. Ilyas, Robinet Jacob, Dean of the School of Tourism Studies, Saritha Mohan of the School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Sambavi K.P. — mother of the researcher, M.N. Sajeesh Kumar, and Anuraji P.R.

Research guides

E.K. Radhakrishnan will continue as her research guide while the Vice Chancellor and Beena Mathew of the School of Chemical Sciences will be the co-guides.

The student, who had joined for PhD in 2014, launched the hunger strike on October 29 alleging that she was not allowed to enter the laboratory and faced casteist abuses from Mr. Kalarikkal. During the course of the strike, she also raised sexual harassment charges against one of her fellow researchers.

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