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Kannur VC a ‘criminal’, was part of conspiracy to attack me: Kerala Governor

The Governor 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.

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Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Kannur University’s Vice-Chancellor (VC) by calling the latter a ”criminal”.

The Governor 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 the police? He did not do so,” Khan told reporters in the national capital.

He was referring to the alleged heckling he faced when he went to inaugurate the Indian History Congress hosted by Kannur University in December 2019. As the Governor was about to address, most of the delegates assembled for the event rose, voicing their protest against his stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act which was a burning issue then.

He further claimed that the Raj Bhavan back then had asked the VC to send a report of what had transpired on stage, but he did not do so.

”In the normal course, I have no business to say anything against any VC. If I have to take action, I can. I have the power. Why should I speak publicly? ”But, 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… He was behind the conspiracy to attack me at Kannur University,” Khan alleged.

The Governor 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.

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

There was no immediate reaction from the VC to the allegations by the Governor.

Khan’s remarks came as the tussle between the Governor and the ruling CPI(M) escalated further after he, exercising his authority as chancellor, stayed the Kannur University’s move to appoint Priya Varghese, wife of former Rajya Sabha MP K K Rajesh, as Malayalam Associate Professor in Kannur University.

The Governor’s decision to stay the appointment was welcomed by the Congress with its senior leader and MP K Muraleedharan telling reporters that there have been several instances where senior CPI(M) leaders have used their positions in the party to garner favours and jobs for their near and dear ones and therefore, there should be a proper investigation into the issue.

Speaking to reporters, Khan further said, ”He has made several other appointments. Why? Because he is not behaving as a VC, he is not behaving as an academic, he is behaving as a party cadre. He has ruined Kannur University and I must set the house in order. The process has started.” He also gave details of the alleged attack on him at the varsity to substantiate his accusation that the VC was a ”criminal”.

The Governor said that according to the programme of the event approved by Raj Bhavan and agreed upon by the VC, there was not to be any departure from the programme timings and schedules.

”It was supposed to be 60 minutes. But the VC allowed historian Irfan Habib and others to make speeches for over one-and-a-half hours criticising severely, me and addressing every question me. When I stood up to answer the questions, within five minutes, a physical attack attempt was made me.

”The shirt of my ADC, Manoj Yadav, was torn and twice they made attempts on me. It was only because of the security that they could not reach me,” he said.

The Governor, after the 2019 alleged heckling incident, had accused Habib of trying to disrupt his inaugural address at the Indian History Congress.

This kind of behaviour indicates an ”intolerance” towards a different opinion and was ”undemocratic”, he had said back then.

Khan, on Sunday, said that while heckling the Prime Minister or other political leaders was not an offence, such actions toward the President or Governor wwewereimea under the Indian Penal Code punishable with imprisonment for up to seven years.

”What was the duty of the man who had invited me there, I ask you? Is he an ignorant man? Is he an illiterate man? Does he not know about the provisions of IPC? Was it not his duty to report it to the police? ”Even when the Raj Bhavan asked him to send the report of what he saw on stage, he refused to send it. He is a criminal. He was party to the conspiracy to hurt me physically. That is why I am using such strong language,” he said.

Khan further said that whatever steps he takes, he would follow the due process of law and ”will not allow anger to overcome me”.

”I do not hurriedly take action. I give a long rope first,” he added.

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