Dr. Jeganathan, who belongs to the Dalit community, was Head of the Physics Department before he was made the officiating principal

The Principal of the Mannar Duraisingam Government College, Sivaganga, S. Jeganathan, who was stabbed on the college premises recently, has alleged that a colleague could have been behind the attack and the motive could be related to his caste.

The principal said the attack could have taken place because some people could not accept a Dalit as head of the institution. S. Suresh Kannan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, who has been accused by the principal of being behind it, has denied the charge.

Dr. Jeganathan, who belongs to the Dalit community, was Head of the Physics Department before he was made the officiating principal. He told The Hindu on Saturday that after assuming office, he took steps to set right irregularities in attendance, as some faculty members habitually came late and left early after signing the attendance register.

To address the issue, Dr. Jeganathan said, he called for an academic council meeting on June 25, at which it was decided that all teaching staff and non-teaching staff should sign the register between 9.00 am and 9.30 am.

It was decided to have a separate register for latecomers.

According to him, Mr. Suresh Kannan refused to sign the separate register meant for the latecomers and had allegedly created a ruckus in the Principal’s chamber on July 2. He had allegedly abused the Principal calling him by his caste name. On July, 4, a memo was issued to him.

“Even after receiving the memo, the lecturer paid no heed and still continued to come late to college and forcibly used to sign the register. I once took the register and kept it in my drawer but he entered my chamber when I was not there and signed it,” said Dr. Jeganathan.

On July 13, the principal was stabbed on the leg, allegedly by a resident of Tiruppalai in Madurai who had come to him. He was taken to the Government Hospital at Sivaganga and later shifted to Madurai.

When contacted, Mr. Suresh Kannan refuted the allegations and said caste was not at all an issue here. Both he and the principal belonged to the same association, Tamil Nadu Government College Teachers Association and there were some differences on that front, but it had nothing to do with the attendance and council meeting, he said.

People’s Watch, a non-governmental organisation has demanded a CB-CID inquiry into the incident as some aspects suggest that the Principal could have been a victim of caste discrimination.

It has also demanded a case be registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Henri Tiphagne, executive director, Peoples Watch, demanded adequate police security for the principal and his family.