Talks held for over four hours could not break the ice

A six-day-long protest by a section of the students and faculty members of Madurai Kamaraj University could not be brought to an end on Monday though Vice-Chancellor Kalyani Mathivanan constituted a committee headed by Registrar (in-charge) A. Muthumanickam to hold talks with the agitators.

After participating in the talks held from 2.45 p.m. and 7.20 p.m., the agitators claimed that the committee had agreed to revoke punitive action proposed against three research scholars, but did not commit on revoking action taken against two faculty members and a non-teaching staff.

When contacted over phone, Ms.Mathivanan said: “No decision would be taken on Monday night. The students felt that they were not given an opportunity to put forth their views. So, I constituted this committee. The committee is yet to get back to me.”

She said the guides of two research scholars — C. Pandiyarajan of the School of Chemistry and J. Arun of the School of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources — had lodged written complaints against them before the university’s Research Committee.

“The two research scholars had been doing everything, except concentrating on academics. They did not change despite repeated warnings. Therefore, the Research Committee had decided to cancel their Ph.D. registration and it was approved by the Syndicate,” she said. She also said the third research scholar – P.J. Eswari Pandaranayaka – was not eligible to continue her studies in the university.

On the charge levelled by ‘Save MKU Coalition’ convenor A. Srinivasan that the Vice-Chancellor was “authoritarian and undemocratic,” Ms.Mathivanan said she had never taken any decision independently. Every action had been taken only after clearance from bodies such as the Syndicate, Senate, Academic Council and Research Committee.

“I am only inculcating discipline among the students,” she said.

Earlier in the day, when the agitators attempted to enter the Vice-Chancellor’s office premises, they were prevented by private security guards. Hence, the students staged a sit-in protest in front of the main gate, raising slogans against the administration.

A police team, led by Deputy Superintendent of Police T. Kanthasoroopan, was also present on the campus. In the afternoon, Mr.Muthumanickam and a few Syndicate members met the agitators and expressed their willingness to talk to the three research scholars.

However, the agitators insisted that the talks should be held only with their representatives, for which the university officials agreed.

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