Caste row: Director of film institute in Kerala resigns
The director of a film institute in Kerala resigned on Saturday following a seven-week battle by students and staff who accused him of caste discrimination and sabotaging caste-based reservations in admission.
Shankar Mohan submitted his resignation to Adoor Gopalakrishnan, celebrated filmmaker and chairman of the K.R. Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts, Kottayam, on the 48th day of the protest that began on December 5.
An inquiry commission of retired civil servants K. Jayakumar and N.K. Jayakumar had recently submitted its report to the chief minister’s office. While the report has not been published, sources said the commission had found substance in the allegations against Mohan.
The film fraternity welcomed Mohan’s resignation and criticised Gopalakrishnan’s role.
“The issue would have been settled sooner had Adoor Gopalakrishnan not remained so adamant about protecting the director, whom he described as a member of a noble family and a Delhi-based person who doesn’t understand the caste dynamics of Kerala,” said filmmaker Vinayan, who had visited the protesting students on Saturday.
Women cleaners at the institute had alleged they had to take turns working at Mohan’s official quarters and accused him and his wife of asking about their caste and forcing them to clean toilet bowls without gloves and using just a scrubber.
Gopalakrishnan had vehemently defended Mohan and his wife, absolving them of all charges. But a large number of film personalities, literary figures and social activists had expressed solidarity with the protesting students and staff.
Filmmaker Jeo Baby said the resignation was only one of the protesters’ demands.
“He (Mohan) committed a lot of negative acts, like reducing the term of the three-year course to two years. It has now to be restored to three years,” said Baby, a visiting faculty at the institute, named after the country’s first Dalit President.
“He played dirty games sabotaging reservations for students and thus violated the law and the Constitution. All this has to be rectified.”
Student council head Sreedev Suprakash told reporters the protesters were ready to resume classes. “Now that he (Mohan) has resigned, we are ready to return to our classes. But we need an assurance from the government on our other demands, including adherence to reservation norms,” he said.