No action on Higher Education Secretary’s directive; SFI announces protest against Periyar University

February 12, 2024 08:52 pm | Updated 08:57 pm IST - Salem

A view of Periyar University in Salem in Tamil Nadu on Friday, 08 December 2023.

A view of Periyar University in Salem in Tamil Nadu on Friday, 08 December 2023. | Photo Credit: LAKSHMI NARAYANAN E

With Periyar University Vice-chancellor R. Jagannathan yet to take action against University Registrar K. Thangavel despite a directive from the Tamil Nadu Higher Education Department Secretary four days ago, the Students Federation of India (SFI), announced a protest on Tuesday. The Association of University Teachers (AUT) have also accused the Vice-Chancellor of wilfully defying the directive.

On February 7, Secretary A. Karthik wrote a letter to the Vice Chancellor stating that an inquiry committee, probing into various allegations against Thangavel, found seven charges, including fund misappropriation, substantiated. With Thangavel scheduled to retire on February 29, the secretary instructed immediate suspension pending further investigations due to the serious nature of the charges. Despite the directive, four days have passed, and Vice Chancellor Jagannathan has not taken any action.

M.S. Balamurugan, AUT state president, expressed bewilderment at the Vice Chancellor’s alleged defiance of the government’s directive to not permit Mr. Thangavel’s retirement and place him under suspension. He contended that Jagannathan was challenging the government by allowing Thangavel’s retirement without suspension. Notably, the same Vice Chancellor suspended K. Prem Kumar, the general secretary of the Periyar University Teachers Association, in March 2022 for allegedly leaking syndicate agenda details to the press. Balamurugan also criticized Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi’s recent visit to the University where he held an exclusive meeting with the Vice Chancellor, who was previously arrested and released on bail, terming it detrimental to the State Higher Education.

Meanwhile, the Senate meeting of Periyar University is scheduled for Tuesday. Urging the Tamil Nadu government to intervene and cancel the scheduled meeting, SFI district secretary S. Pavithran demanded immediate action against both Thangavel and Vice-Chancellor Jagannathan, accusing the latter of challenging government instructions. On Tuesday, the SFI will stage a demonstration against the University, Mr. Pavithran added.

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