Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 31 (PTI) Renowned filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan on Tuesday announced his resignation as chairman of the K R Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts, days after its director -- Shankar Mohan -- quit following complaints of caste discrimination against him by a section of students and staff.
Gopalakrishnan -- a Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner -- while announcing his resignation, at a press conference here -- from the institute, also threw his weight behind Mohan by saying the latter was a well respected and distinguished professional who has been at the helm of various government-run film institutions in the last four decades.
The filmmaker further said Mohan had diligently worked with him during the last three years to bring the institution back from the edge of ruin and turn it into one of the best film institutes in the country.
"It is such a professional whom we invited here and then forced him to leave by levelling baseless, false and derogatory allegations against him and insulting him," Gopalakrishnan said while speaking to the media here.
The filmmaker also raised doubts regarding the findings of an initial enquiry committee, constituted by the Higher Education Department, and the subsequent inquiry commission, appointed on his request by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to look into the matter.
Gopalakrishnan contended that the committee never included him or Mohan in their enquiry and the commission too did not appear to have carried out a proper investigation into the issue.
He also said those who thought that curtains would fall on the issue with the resignation of Mohan, were wrong.
In the wake of his announcement, State Higher Education Minister R Bindu said she saw no reason for Gopalakrishnan to resign from his post in protest against the government as it was with his consent that the inquiry commission was appointed.
She, however, also said that if there was any fact or truth in the claims made by the filmmaker, then it would be definitely examined by the government.
The minister, speaking to reporters, also said that as an individual she was of the view that staff of the institute should not be used to clean the house of the director.
Reacting to Gopalakrishnan's decision, some students of the institute told media that inquiry reports should be made public so that everyone comes to know the truth.
Some non-teaching staff members of the institute stuck to their allegations made in the past and told the media that Mohan and his wife did make them clean toilets and that they indulged in caste discrimination.
Gopalakrishnan, on the other hand, claimed in his press conference that the allegations, of being anti-Dalit, indulging in caste discrimination and making the institution's staff clean his toilet and bathroom, levelled against the former director of the institute were found to be barefaced lies in his enquiry.
He also contended that it was some disgruntled staff members, a clerk, a PRO, a couple of teachers and a storekeeper, of the institution who were behind the controversy and instigated the students into holding a protest in the institute.
The former chairperson of the institute also said that Mohan was provided an official residence outside the campus as none was available within the institution's compound and only one staff was appointed to clean the surrounding grounds of the place that too once a week.
The institute had been embroiled in controversy for some time after a section of students levelled charges against Mohan.
Mohan had claimed allegations of caste discrimination were raised against him as he took a strong stand against corruption in the organisation.
The state government had appointed a two-member panel, comprising former Chief Secretary K Jayakumar and former Vice-Chancellor of NUALS N K Jayakumar, to probe the matter.
They had met the students and staff of the institute and collected the details with regard to the allegations which also include undermining of reservation norms in students' admissions.
Earlier, a Higher Education Department committee had recommended changing the director and conducting an investigation into the allegations against him.
The issue came to the fore after some cleaning staff of the institute complained that the director's wife used to make them clean the toilets of her residence.
Gopalakrishnan too had come under severe criticism from a section of former students after he allegedly backed Mohan and made a "slacker" comment against one of the teachers who supported the students' protest. PTI HMP SS SS