Guv Khan calls Kannur varsity VC a criminal, CPM fumes

Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, (right) Kannur University

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Sunday levelled a scathing attack against the Kannur vice-chancellor alleging that the latter had plotted to harm him.

Khan accused vice-chancellor Gopinath Raveendran of being part of the alleged conspiracy to attack the former when he was invited to the varsity amidst the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) agitations in the country.

"He was party to the conspiracy to hurt me physically. He is a criminal. He is sitting as VC because of political reasons. I was invited there by the VC. What was his duty when I was attacked? Was he not supposed to report it to police? He did not do so," Khan told reporters on Sunday morning.

Khan was referring to the protest against him during the inauguration of the 80th Indian History Congress at Kannur University in late 2019.

The incident happened when Khan was delivering the inaugural address. The protesters raised placards against the Citizenship Amendment Act and also shouted slogans.

Police had to intervene and remove the agitators who had created a commotion outside the auditorium.

Later, Governor summoned Vice-Chancellor Gopinath Raveendran to the Kannur guest house and demanded CCTV footage of the incident.

The Governor also said that he had later received reports from "very high quarters" that people knew that the conspiracy was hatched in Delhi. "He (VC) was part of it," he again claimed.

"I have been forced to speak publicly because this VC has crossed all limits of decency, of academic discipline. He has ruined Kannur University. More than a VC, he is a political cadre," Khan alleged.

On what action he would take on returning to Kerala, Khan said, "My only plan is to set the house in order. The position of Kannur University is such."

However, he also said that whatever action he takes would be based on expert legal advice and not to satisfy his personal ego and added that he has always welcomed criticism as it "keeps me careful, straight and law-abiding".

The other day Khan had claimed that the VC was behaving like an instrument of the CPM. 

Governor crossed limits: Kannur University Syndicate

Kannur University Syndicate stated that the Governor’s moves maligning the varsity crossed all limits and are highly condemnable.

“Media has been filled with allegations, controversies and news on the University of late. Governor’s responses have been adding fuel to the fire. He has announced certain proceedings without completely understanding the University laws. The personal attack against the Vice Chancellor followed these actions,” the Syndicate said.

“The University has followed the rules in all appointments, reorganisation of the Board of Studies, and allotting Colleges. It has also adhered to the legal advice. Governor has been listening to certain opposition organisations’ allegations and acting with a political prejudice without understanding the facts, thereby taunting and vilifying the University in the public forum,” the Syndicate added.

Kannur University. File Photo: Manorama

CPM backs VC

Responding on the latest controversy, the CPM said Khan's remarks were unbecoming of a Governor. Senior CPM leader and LDF convener E P Jayarajan said the Governor should make it clear what was the crime committed by the VC.

"The governor should introspect if his remarks were suitable for the position he holds. He has brought the Raj Bhavan down to the level of the RSS," Jayarajan said.

CPM Kannur district secretary M V Jayarajan also slammed the Governor, saying he should withdraw the remarks against the VC.

"It's unfortunate that he is digging out an incident that dates back to 2019. He had voiced the Sangh Parivar's opinions at that function. He defended the CAA amendment," the CPM leader said.

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress extended support to the governor. KPCC president K Sudhakaran said Khan should not be alone in the fight to retain the credibility of the varsities in the state. "A detailed inquiry has to be conducted into the irregular appointments. The Bill meant to take away the powers has been drafted with the aim of protecting nepotist appointments," Sudhakaran said.

Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan asked the Chief Minister to break his silence over the controversy as it involves his personal staff. "If the Chief Minister continues to remain silent, we will have to believe that the appointment was with his connivance," Satheesan said.

On the Governor's allegation against the VC, the Congress leader said a competing authority should probe it. 

Guv vs VC

The Governor has been strongly opposing the alleged irregularities in the University. The recent flashpoint was over the appointment of Dr Priya Varghese at the varsity.

Priya is the wife of KK Ragesh, the private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The university syndicate on Thursday decided to move the High Court against the Governor's decision to stay the appointment of Priya as an associate professor of the Malayalam Department at the varsity on the grounds of nepotism.

The Governor is mulling strict action against the VC for calling an emergency meeting and then challenging his order and for speaking to the media against him.

This, Khan said, was gross misconduct and a serious violation.

"Anyone can criticise me, but I will discharge my duties as Governor," Khan said.

The Governor is also the Chancellor of state universities.

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