For a State touted to be the crucible of women empowerment, the ouster of Sajitha Madathil as Deputy Director of the State Chalachithra Academy days ahead of the International Women's Day speaks volumes about its deeply entrenched discrimination against women.
On March 4, academy Chairman Priyadarshan served the dismissal order on her. It stated that she had been ousted from the post with retrospective effect, from February 29, and she would be paid ‘notice pay' for two months.
Ms. Madathil has now written to the Chief Minister seeking his intervention to roll back the ‘unilateral and authoritarian' order.
In a mail sent to Oommen Chandy, she alleged that her unceremonious removal was triggered by the fact that she was averse to being subservient to the cronies of Minister for Cinema K.B. Ganesh Kumar who were included in the academy by flouting norms.
After a stint with the Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademi (the National Akademi for Music, Dance, and Drama) as its Deputy Secretary, Ms. Madathil joined the Chalachithra Academy, following a formal interview, to work on contract as its Deputy Director for three years from August 2008. Before her term ended, she was given an extension for a year, till August 2012.
“During all these years at the academy, there has never been an adverse remark about me. The dismissal is unreasonable. More so, because they have not furnished any reason for doing that. At a time when the government waxes eloquent about things like Gender Park and uplift of women, there is an unmistakable deep-rooted bias. And, if it can happen to someone like me with a fairly good track record as a theatre and film activist, better not to talk about the treatment meted out to women without voice,” Ms. Madathil told The Hindu .
She also claimed that one of the reasons for her being shown the door was the Minister's dislike of the film ‘Adimadhyantham' in which she played the female protagonist.
“Although originally selected in the competition section of the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), the Minister tried to expel it. He probably thought I was instrumental in its selection, but I had never intervened in the selection process. Now that the film has won national recognition [it won the special jury mention at the national film awards], its selection [to IFFK] has been vindicated,” she said.
In her plea to Mr. Chandy, she said the Minister's actions, including her dismissal, were heavily influenced by his personal likes and dislikes. “On occasions, he was rude with me at the academy,” she alleged.