Tamil Nadu's Madurai Kamaraj University, which has been closed for a month now following student unrest, reopened its gates on January 3, 2014, but being a Friday only staff members turned up on that day. Monday, however, saw students trickle in, only to realise that classes had resumed only for post-graduates, and not for research students.
The latter have been told to come back after Pongal (January 14). Naturally, the research students took out a protest rally on Monday around the university campus, shouting slogans against the management for ‘victimising three students, a professor, guest lecturer and a clerk’, with the PG students joining in.
Last month two research scholars were dismissed and another was transferred by a syndicate resolution of the university, leading to large-scale student protests and the indefinite closure of the university.
Surprisingly, on Monday, the two dismissed students, C Pandiarajan and J Arun, were called to attend a meeting of the syndicate which was on in the university. There they were told that their personal guides, who were present at the meeting, had complained against them, which was why the university had taken action against them. Arun’s guide, Professor Selvakumar, and Pandiarajan’s guide, Professor R Ramraj, said they could not work with them.
The two students told Rediff.com, “This is another way of getting rid of us. There are no other guides in the subject that we have taken. We will have to move to another university.” Arun added, “I already have a co-guide from ManomaniamSundranarUniversity, Tirunelveli. Now they are suggesting I move there. I will not go there. I am a merit scholar here. I will lose my scholarship if I go from here.”
Talking about their colleague, Eshwari Pandaranayaka, they said, “They did not call her for talks but even if they settle our issue we will not stop our protests until she is allowed to continue with her research here.”
Pandaranayaka, who is polio-afflicted in one leg, told Rediff.com, “I had written to the court of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities and told him that I had been thrown out from my hostel. On December 17, 2013, the court passed an order that I should be given hostel accommodation within 30 days.
“If they don’t follow the order I will appeal to the same court again. So far I have told them only about the hostel. Now I will also write and inform them about the scholarship and my wish to continue here.”
Eshwari has won the prestigious Kothari fellowship for post-doctoral research, which states that it should not be done in the same place where you do your PhD. She told Rediff.com, “When I applied for the scholarship they knew that I was going to do it here, My mentor is here, I have already been working on it for seven months here, but now they are discovering that I am not allowed to do it here.”
“When the UGC gave me that scholarship they knew that I was going to do it here and still gave it to me. The university is victimising me, why I don’t know.”
Eswari’s mentor Professor Krishnaswamy told Rediff.com, “The students will not go to court as then they will say the matter is sub judice and refuse to talk. I was removed as head of my department earlier. I have gone to the high court against this decision and the hearing is on January 23.”
That’s not the only legal trouble ahead for the university. Guest lecturer Ramachandran, who was also dismissed last month for attending pro-Tamil meetings, has moved the high court for re-instatement, and that case is coming up for hearing on January 9. A clerk, Parthasarathy, who was suspended last month has filed a criminal case against the vice chancellor including for abuse of a schedule caste member, which comes up for hearing on January 21.
Given these tangles, it is unlikely the academic year will see a smooth run.