Kerala dalit student’s fight against discrimination towards her finds support

Kerala dalit student’s fight against discrimination towards her finds support

On Wednesday, she also raised a fresh allegation of sexual harassment from a couple of persons in the university Arjun Raghunath, DHNS,

NOV 03 2021, 21:42 IST UPDATED: NOV 03 2021, 21:47 IST

Mohanan joined the Kottayam district headquartered MG University in 2011-12. Credit: DH Photo
Mohanan joined the Kottayam district headquartered MG University in 2011-12. Credit: DH Photo

A female research student in Kerala is on an indefinite stir in front of the Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala. She has said that the university authorities have been deliberately delaying completion of her PhD course.

Deepa P Mohanan, who is from the dalit community, has also alleged caste discrimination by a section in the university over the last ten years.

With her protest reaching its sixth day on Wednesday, Mohanan has received support from various quarters. A group of known social activists and writers also urged Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to initiate in addressing the woes of Mohan.

On Wednesday, she also raised a fresh allegation of sexual harassment from couple of persons in the university earlier. Though she said that she had informed the university authorities about this, the university authorities denied it.

A native of Kannur district in Kerala, Mohanan joined the Kottayam district headquartered MG University in 2011-12 for doing MPhil in Nanoscience.
Mohanan said that since then she has been facing discrimination especially from a section of top faculty members of the International and Inter University Centre or Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IIUCNN).

She said that she was denied facilities for doing projects and her MPhil certificate was delayed in a bid to sabotage her admission. She was also not allowed to use the lab and was denied basic facilities like a seat in the university she has reported.

Mohanan had earlier approached court and also a panel appointed by the university had looked into the issues she raised. Even as the court and panel responded positively to her concerns and directed that she should be provided adequate facilities to to complete her PhD, the university authorities were turning a deaf ear to her woes, she lamented.

University authorities were unavailable for comment. Sources in the university said that Mohanan was insisting that a top faculty member of the IIUCNN should be removed from the post, which was not technically possible.

The University vice chancellor Sabu Thomas had initiated a talk with Mohanan on Monday and assured that she would have every academic freedom in the university and there would not be any hindrance in using the facilities like library.

As Mohanan went ahead with the stir, the district administration also chipped in. Assuring that the district collector would hold talks with her, Mohanan was shifted to hospital by Tuesday evening. But she again returned to resume her stir in front of the university.

According to a joint statement by over 60 known social activists and writers, it was very unfortunate that Kerala that boasts of many progressive initiatives was witnessing a student from the dalit community staging a stir against the discriminations she was facing in completing her doctoral studies. The Chief Minister should initiate steps to address the woes of the student, they urged.

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