A group of activists, allegedly belonging to the Kannada Rakshana Vedike, targeted Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) Director Prof. Ram Rajashekaran in Mysore on Thursday. The pro-Kannada activists also threw black paint on him at an international seminar organised by the University of Mysore.

The incident took place around 10 a.m. on Thursday, as soon as Prof. Rajashekaran, who was the chief guest and supposed to inaugurate the “International Symposium on Chemical Biology-Drug Discovery-2014”, reached the B.N. Bahadur Institute of Management Science at Manasangangotri. About 10 to 15 activists barged into the premises raising slogans against him and threw black paint on him.

When Prof. Rajashekaran’s driver sensed trouble he reversed the vehicle. But the activists,which included a few women, chased the car raising slogans against him. They also damaged the window pane and rear-view mirror of the car.

Two senior University staff, Prof. Vishwanath and Prof. Ravishankar Rai of the Department of Biochemistry – who were near the entrance to receive the chief guest, rushed to the rescue of Prof. Rajashekaran along with a few research scholars and students, but were outnumbered by the group. University staff present at the venue said there were only two policemen and they were mute witness to the incident, which was over before they could react.

The immediate cause for the attack on the senior scientist is rooted in an incident which took place at the CFTRI premises a few days ago. A Kannada organisation — CFTRI Sahrudaya Balaga — wanted to celebrate Kannada Rajyotsava at the auditorium recently. But permission was denied and the venue of the function was shifted to Vanaranga in the theatre repertoire Rangayana. This was perceived to be an “anti-Kannada” stance of the Director and hence it is suspected that he was targeted.

Meanwhile, CFTRI scientists and other staff have condemned the incident and said this incident has brought disgrace as Prof. Ram Rajashekaran was a top notch scientist working for the nation in one of the premier CSIR laboratories of the country.

Prof. K.S. Rangappa, Vice-Chancellor, University of Mysore, condemned the incident and said this is no way to express opposition against anyone. “The incident has besmirched the reputation of the University as not only is a top scientist but was our chief guest and many international research scholars are present at the venue”, said Prof. Rangappa, who sought immediate action against the perpetuators of the attack.

“I have already spoken to the Commissioner of Police Mr. M.A. Saleem who has promised to take action against the accused and I will ask the Director of Rani Bahadur Institute of Management Science to lodge a police complaint and pursue the matter”, Prof. Rangappa added.

As a result of the incident, the start of the international seminar was delayed.

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