The decision to suspend Professor Prasad Pannian from the headship of the Department of English and Comparative Literature by the Central University of Kerala has evoked a widespread criticism on social media from the student, teachers, writers, and intellectuals. The decision to suspend Pannian came after he wrote a Facebook post on August 11 in solidarity with research scholar Ganthoti Nagaraju, who has been arrested for breaking the glass pane of a fire alarm in the hostel.
The VC signed the student's suspension order on Friday, and Pro-VC K Jayaprasad circulated it on WhatsApp groups and to the media, without serving it to Pannian.
Criticizing the arrest of the student, Pannian wrote on August 11, "That an act of misdemeanor has been criminalised is deeply disturbing. As far as I understand, this is a minor offense that should have been settled on the campus itself. Mr Nagaraju lost his mother a few months ago and has been going through severe mental stress and agony... He has also not received his fellowship for quite some time. It is extremely saddening to know that our student is lying on the cold floor of the prison cell on charges of breaking a pane. I strongly condemn this arrest and appeal to the authorities to immediately secure the release of our student."
Noted writer, Sunil P Elayidom in his Facebook post wrote,"By targetting Pannian, the university is challenging the sense of justice and democratic tradition of Kerala society." "The biggest irony of the suspension order was that it was signed by a well-known scholar and teacher of political science," wrote journalist Josy Joseph. "We're indeed living in terrible times when democratic and academic values are pushed aside in favour of obedience and conformity," he added.
Left intellectual, Anil Chelembra observed that those who are against the views of the 'authorities' were being branded as 'enemies of the university'.
The students on the other hand are all set to launch a agitation. Accusing the university of curtailing dissent, students have called for an all-party meeting to discuss the future course of action on Sunday evening. "The suspension of Pannian comes two days after the VC expelled Akhil Thazhath, a second-year post-graduate student of International Relations and Politics for a critical Facebook post.