Kottayam Collector orders to shut KR Narayanan institute for 2 weeks as students announce hunger strike

The K R Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts campus.

Kottayam: The District Collector has ordered to shut temporarily the K R Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts (KRNNIVSA) at Pallikkathode, where the students have been staging an indefinite strike demanding the removal of its director who is facing charges of discrimination on the basis of caste.

Collector Dr P K Jayashree on Friday issued an order to keep the institute shut from December 24 (Saturday) to January 8. The decision was taken in the wake of the students announcing a hunger strike starting December 25.

The order also asked the students to vacate hostels during the said period. The institute director has been instructed to implement the order.

"The action has been taken on the basis of Section 81 of the Kerala Police Act, 2011. The students have been staging a strike since December 5. The action has been taken on the basis of the sub-collector's report stating that untoward incidents could occur in the wake of the students announcing a hunger strike from December 25," an official statement said.

The students' council of the institute at Thekkumthala, Pallikkathode, in Kottayam, has been on an indefinite strike demanding the removal of Shankar Mohan, a former actor and filmmaker, from the post of the institute’s director as they have accused him of behaving with a casteist mentality on multiple occasions.

The charges against him include forcing sanitisation workers of the institute to do domestic work like cleaning toilets at the director’s private residence, breaching reservation rules for students' admission and showing caste discrimination against students and employees.

KRNNIVSA is an autonomous institute established by the Kerala government. The students launched the protest after a group of sanitisation workers came out against the director recently.

The tussle between the students and the administration escalated after the institute cancelled the accommodation arranged for the students attending the International Film Festival of Kerala held in Thiruvananthapuram earlier this month.

Shankar Mohan is yet to respond to the allegations against him. However, renowned filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who is the chairman of the institute, has denied all the charges. In interviews with some web portals, he has said a section of workers and students who fear they would lose their job and position because of their fault was behind the allegations.

He has credited Mohan for bringing discipline to the institute. The students, in an open letter, had accused Adoor of shielding Mohan.

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