Postgraduate students of Mangalore University boycotted classes and staged a dharna in front of the offices of the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar on Wednesday.

They were demanding the suspension or transfer of M.P. Umeshchandra, lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism. Of the 43 journalism students, 38 students have been staging an indefinite dharna on the campus since Monday.

Students of other departments led by office bearers of the students’ council joined the dharna on Wednesday.

They withdrew their dharna at noon after a team of the student council’s office-bearers, led by president Santhosh Kumar B.M. and vice-president Max Broney, held a meeting with acting Vice-Chancellor K.K. Achary. However, students stayed away from classes in the afternoon as well.

Mr. Kumar told The Hindu that the students’ council had supported the journalism students as it had realised that their demand was genuine.

He said that they had withdrawn their dharna till Saturday as the Syndicate of the university would meet on that day. “We will wait for its decision and take the next course of action.”

Speaking to The Hindu, some of the protesting students alleged that the lecturer had crossed the limits. They claimed that he had asked them to raise their hand in class on the basis of their religion and caste. He had made statements that hurt the sentiments of students.

Mr. Achary told The Hindu that the students were demanding immediate action against the lecturer. “But we cannot take action based on their allegations. We have to follow certain procedures. The Syndicate will look into the issue on Saturday.”

The lecturer was issued a show-cause notice on January 4 based on a complaint filed by the journalism students on December 18, 2009 and a decision taken by the Syndicate in this regard on January 2. The university is yet to receive a reply from him.

G. P. Shivaram, chairman, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, told The Hindu that the lecturer concerned has stayed away from the department since December 21, 2009 without submitting a leave letter.

Lecturer’s reaction

When contacted, Mr. Umeshchandra said that he had not received a show-cause notice. He said that “it is wrong and false” to say that he had stayed away from work without submitting a leave letter to the chairman of the department.

Mr. Umeshchandra alleged that certain vested interests in the university and outside and certain sections of the media were attempting to tarnish his image. A professor in the university was trying settle scores with him.

He wanted to know why the university had not taken action against the agitating students. “All the students are not against me,” he said.

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