KR Narayanan film institute call off strike after talks with minister

R Bindu | Video Grab: Manorama News
The students ended the protest as the government promised to look into the 14 demands raised by them: File Photo

The students of the K R Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts in Kottayam have called off their protest following a meeting with Higher Education Minister R Bindu which came 50 days after they launched the indefinite strike. The students ended the protest as the government promised to look into the 14 demands raised by them. The meeting between the minister and the representatives of the students took place on Monday as the students were not ready to end the agitation even after Shankar Mohan quit as the director of the institute.

The foremost demand of the protesting student was that Mohan be expelled from the post as he has allegedly practised caste discrimination towards students and staff of the institute.

After Monday's meeting, Minister Bindu said the government has initiated the proceedings to find a replacement for Mohan. A search committee has been formed for this.

"The main demand of the students was that the director be expelled. He resigned yesterday and the government has issued an order appointing a search comittee to appoint a new director," she said. State Planning board Vice Chairman Dr T K Ramachandran is the head of the committee. Veteran filmmakers Shaji N Karun and T V Chandran are the members of the panel.

The government has agreed to fill the reserved seats which have been lying vacant. The isssues persisiting to reservation of seats will be resolved before the next academic year begins. Staff will not be deputed to carry out the works at the director's house anymore. A complaint redressal will be formed for the welfare of students. An experts' panel will be constituted to address the complaints regarding academics. All students who have completed their programmes will be issued their certificates before March 31, the minister said briefing the decisions of the meeting.

Student representatives said they decided to call off the strike as the government has taken a favorable stand on the demands raised by them. They, however, said they will not cooperate with Adoor Gopalakrishnan who is the chairman of the institute. Ever since the protest started, the veteran filmmaker had taken a stand favouring Mohan, terming all allegations against him fabricated.

Student Council leader Sreedev told Onmanorama that they were satisfied with the decisions at the meeting with the minister. "Our major demand was that the director resign and he did. The government has also promised to address the concerns regarding violation of reservation rules," he said.

The institute had been embroiled in controversy for some time after a section of students levelled charges against Mohan.

He said he had given his resignation to the Chairman of the institute, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, three weeks ago as his tenure had ended.

Mohan claimed allegations of caste discrimination were raised against him as he took a strong stand against the corruption in the organisation. "When I opposed the corrupt activities, some people raised certain issues against me," he said.

The institute was shut down recently anticipating a law and order issue during the students' protest against the director.

Considering the protest by the teachers and students against the director, the state government had appointed a two-member panel, comprising former Chief Secretary K Jayakumar and former Vice Chancellor of NUALS N K Jayakumar, to probe the matter. The committee had recently submitted a report to the chief minister.

The issue came to the fore after some cleaning staff of the institute complained that the director's wife used to make them clean the toilets of her residence.

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