The faculty of Department of International Relations allege that HOD of the department alleged to "use physical force" against her.

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news Controversy Saturday, July 03, 2021 - 18:17

Alleging death threats by a senior professor of the Central University of Kerala, a woman faculty in the university has approached the Kerala Women’s Commission, urging intervention. In her complaint to the Commission, Uma Purushothaman, Assistant Professor of the Department of International Relations, allege that former pro-Vice Chancellor and head of the Department of International Relations K Jayaprasad threatened her for objecting to a contentious admission criteria, by allegedly saying that he would “use physical force” if her objection is not withdrawn. The incident which allegedly happened in February 2021, surfaced after the Women's Commission recently accepted Uma Purushothaman’s complaint officially.  

In 2018, the Central University of Kerala had changed the admission criteria for the post graduate course in the Department of International Relations, by barring students who graduated from science and commerce streams to be admitted. While a section of faculties in the department were against the decision, it was passed by the Board of Studies allegedly by the insistence of K Jayaprasad, allege sources. Stating that the restriction is a violation of fundamental rights and citing the significance of interdisciplinary students for the course, three faculties in the department, including Uma Purushothaman, had in February this year written to the Academic Council of the University. 

In the complaint filed by Uma to the Women's Commission on March 18, she alleged that while raising the same matter against the restrictive norm, the head of the Department K Jayaprasad raised death threats against three of the faculties. “The issue raised by my colleagues and I was purely academic in nature. When the request was raised, Prof. K Jayaprasad lashed out at us in an outrageous language. He threatened me (in the presence of my above-mentioned colleagues) by saying that he would resort to action and use physical force if warranted by circumstances, unless we withdraw the above mentioned request. This has left me quite shaken and I am living in great distress and fear of my life and that of my family,” she states in the complaint. 

Though the Assistant Professor filed a complaint with the Vice Chancellor of the University, H Venkateshwarlu, no action has been taken yet. “It may be noted that I received no support or protection from the University and concerned authorities. This has aggravated my fears,” the complaint states. The complainant has also alleged that the senior faculty continues to “harass and belittle” her. 

“I am concerned about my safety and that of my family members. This has traumatised me and I am not in a position to live with mental peace and tranquility. I find it difficult to drive alone to and from the University,” the complainant states. 

Meanwhile, talking to TNM, officials of the Women's Commission stated that the Assistant Professor’s complaint has been formally registered. 

Recently, another faculty at the same department was suspended in May, for terming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), parent organisation of the BJP, as a ‘proto fascist’ organisation, during a lecture on the topic ‘Fascism and Nazism’. After widespread criticisms, the University revoked the suspension on June 10. In its solidarity statement for Assistant Professor Gilbert Sebastian who was suspended, the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) in the University had raised allegations against the same senior faculty and HOD Jayaprasad, stating , “The hasty decision to suspend Dr Gilbert, one of those rare academicians who have both the theoretical acumen and moral integrity needed to fight the fascist regime, has come from a University that has failed to take action or even enquire into complaints against Sangh supporters like Dr Jayaprasad (associated with Bharatiya Vichara Kendram & Pro Vice Chancellor), who threatened his co-workers with murder. The university administration's commitment to right-wing politics and policies comes as no surprise and is only a continuation of its past actions.”

Read: Kerala professor suspended for criticising right-wing politics: A targeted attack?

Meanwhile, sources in the University also state that the restriction in admission criteria to the Department of International Relations was mooted for alleged vested interest to ensure students inclined to activism do not get admitted. The persons behind this restrictive norm were of the opinion that it is students from science background, including social science, who were involved in activism, said a source.

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