Director of the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) Ram Rajasekharan on Thursday rubbished allegations that he was “anti-Kannada” and said his move to streamline and tone up the administration had not gone well with some staff and they were allegedly making unnecessary accusations against him.
“How can I be accused of showing anti-Kannada stance when I have brought many people belonging to Karnataka to the CFTRI in Mysore from institutes in other States. You can check the records to verify my claim,” he said.
Dr. Rajasekharan was addressing a press conference at his office after he was roughed up and black paint was thrown on him by activists allegedly belonging to the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (T.A. Narayana Gowda faction) on the University of Mysore campus earlier in the day.
“I’m a scientist and feel sad when false accusations were made [against me]. I grew up, studied and worked in this State for long. I went to Lucknow after working in the IISc. in Bangalore for 18 years and came back to the State to serve at the CFTRI here. I have won many awards in this State. I can understand Kannada but cannot speak [it] properly,” he said.
Expressing shock over the attack, he said, “I’m bewildered and don’t know what to say. The recent transfer of one individual should not be concluded as ‘anti-Kannada’ stance. The transfer is an internal matter for administrative reasons.”
Asked whether or not he would take action against errant staff members, Dr. Rajasekharan said, “The entire staff of the institute has been told to discuss and understand the situation. A decision will be taken later.”
Senior scientist N. Bhaskar and head of publicity and information, CFTRI, K.V.S.A.S. Sharma, who were with Dr. Rajasekharan at the time of incident, defended the director’s recent initiatives and dismissed charges against him.
“Being a Kannadiga, I feel bad for what happened today. The director has not shown anti-Kannada stance,” Dr. Bhaskar said.
Chief scientist N. Muralidhar asked, “What is wrong in asking people to work? This is what the director, who is bringing many positive changes in the institution, did.”
Mr. Sharma said there were many organisations in the CFTRI such as Sahrudaya Balaga, which reportedly wanted to celebrate Kannada Habba and accordingly sought auditorium, which were denied permission to use the auditorium for their programmes in the past. But no problem cropped up then, he said.
“The balaga has clarified that its members did not oppose and protest the CFTRI’s decision outside the campus and agreed to issue a clarification on this in newspapers. But, it has not done it so far,” he said.
To a question, Mr. Sharma said the institute had stopped giving auditoriums for the general body meetings too. “Arrangements have been made for holding small gatherings and meetings at the canteen,” he said.
On the reported demand by literary and theatre personalities for an apology from Dr. Rajasekharan over the issue, Mr Sharma said, “We will reply them soon.”