TN Governor Ravi’s visit to Periyar University sparks row over alleged support to recently-arrested VC

VC Jagannathan was recently arrested by the police on corruption charges and also under sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 12, 2024 | 11:42 AMUpdatedJan 12, 2024 | 11:42 AM

Periyar University in Salem. (Official website)

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi visited state-run Periyar University in Salem amid black flag protests by political parties and student outfits opposed to his meeting with varsity Vice-Chancellor R Jagannathan, who was recently arrested by the police on corruption charges and later released on conditional bail.

Student outfits affiliated to the Left parties, and members of the ruling DMK, Dravidar Kazhagam, and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) were among those who opposed Ravi’s meeting on Thursday, 11 January.

Governor Ravi’s visit

The protesters alleged that Ravi’s visit was tantamount to a show of support to the vice-chancellor (VC) who was arrested on 26 December, 2023, on corruption charges and also under sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

On Thursday, the police detained about 200 black flag protesters in a nearby marriage hall, and later allowed them to disperse.

Official sources said the Governor held a review meeting on the university premises with department heads and officials. The VC welcomed Ravi with a bouquet on his arrival at the university.

It is believed that the Governor spent about 20 minutes with Jagannathan in the VC’s chamber.

Prior to his arrival, the police had made elaborate security arrangements for Governor Ravi’s visit. It has also believed that a search was carried out a few hours before his visit to secure documents related to the case against Jagannathan.

Also Read: TN Governor Ravi withdraws notifications on VC posts in 3 universities

Jagannathan’s case

Jagannathan was arrested in December in connection with alleged misappropriation of the university’s funds to float a private firm. The arrest was made by the Karuppur police following a complaint filed by I Elangovan, legal advisor, Periyar University Employees Union (PUEU).

R Jagannathan, Vice-Chancellor, Periyar University, Salem. (Official website)

R Jagannathan, Vice-Chancellor, Periyar University, Salem. (Official website)

According to a report in The Hindu, the complaint stated that the VC and Registrar (Full Additional Charge) K Thangavel, along with two other professors from other universities, started a private company — Periyar University Technology Entrepreneurship and Research (PUTER) Foundation — with an investment of ₹1 lakh each, without obtaining proper permission from the government.

The official residence of the Foundation was listed as PUTER Park, Periyar University, Salem.

The complaint further alleged that without the permission of the Syndicate or state government, a 2,024 sq ft room was allocated to the PUTER Park CEO at the university. The Registrar, on behalf of the Foundation, allegedly received the permission letter for the room.

“Their specific complaint is that the company was set up using the university’s resources and infrastructure for personal gain,” the police said.

While Jagannathan is out on conditional bail, the remaining three associates — Registrar Thangavel, and professors S Sathish and E Ram Ganesh are absconding.

(With PTI inputs)