Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Sunday stepped up his attack on the Left government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan by accusing the latter of directing the police to not lodge a complaint when he was heckled at Kannur University in 2019. Whether the direction merely shows favouritism towards those responsible or it was part of the alleged conspiracy to “attack" him has to be ascertained, Khan said and asked the media to investigate into it.
Speaking to reporters at Aluva near here, the Governor said, “The in-charge of the Home Department, the Chief Minister, had given specific instructions not to report it. Police were given instructions not to take cognisance. This was a cognisable offence under the IPC." He said the IPC clearly states that if anyone tries to “intimidate" or “overcome" the President of India or a Governor from discharging their duties, then it is a cognisable offence punishable by imprisonment of up to 7 years and a fine.
“Now, I leave it to you, the presspersons to find out whether it was a conspiracy or favouritism that we see everywhere," he said.
“The conspiracy was to frighten me into not speaking publicly. The VC of the Kannur University was used to ensure I was present on stage. Then, they planned to make an assault," he claimed. Khan, however, said the alleged conspirators never wanted to kill him.
“Naturally, they did not want to kill me. They know what the consequences (of that) will be. They only wanted to frighten me," he said. BJP State president K Surendran came to the fore in support of Khan, saying that the Governor had clearly informed the State government about the alleged attempt to physically assault him.
“But, till date no action has been taken by Kerala police and this has to be explained to the public by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. If the Governor cannot get justice, how will the common man get it?" he asked. Khan’s remarks come a day after the CPI(M) charged him with unleashing ‘false campaigns’ against the dispensation.
Targeting the Governor, CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan had in a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday rubbished Khan’s claims regarding what happened at the Kannur University in 2019, saying it was a sudden protest and there was no conspiracy behind it.
Khan today said that back then he had thought it was merely the doing of historian Irfan Habib “who used to run a trade union" and allegedly had “several physical encounters." “Now, I am convinced that this was a conspiracy where the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Kannur University was used to ensure that I am present there so that I can be attacked. That is why I am raising this issue now. It took me time to understand that this was not an isolated incident. I have said it before and I am repeating it, there are certain ideologies, I have not named anybody, who believe in use of force, in applying pressure, to silence voices," he said.
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. Khan expressed surprise over the comment of CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan as to why the Governor’s staff did not lodge a police complaint in connection with the 2019 Kannur University incident.
“Is my staff supposed to go to the police?" he asked. Asked about the procedure to be followed when there is an apprehension of threat to his security, the Governor said, “That you will come to know tomorrow".
He said he would be releasing tomorrow (September 19) the letters sent to him by the Chief Minister assuring him that there would be no interference from his government in the functioning of the universities. “Now, instead of interference, they are trying to take control of the universities," he said.
He, however, said he would not speak about the times when the Kerala Chief Minister allegedly sought favours from him. Khan did not spare LDF MLA and former Kerala minister K T Jaleel, saying that he “challenged the national integrity of India by describing Kashmir in the language of Pakistan." Coming to the aid of its Left front ally, CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran said they have been putting up for a long time the Governor’s conduct of keeping pending laws enacted by elected representatives of Kerala in the State Assembly.
Khan also raked up the issue of personal staff of Ministers being entitled to pension after they work for a minimum of two years, alleging that it amounted to looting of the Exchequer. “Can you give me any other example where personal staff of Ministers become entitled to pension for life long in two years time? How do you expect me to remain silent when I see the exchequer is being looted?" he asked.
When scribes asked what action he would take regarding the alleged use of an official vehicle by the wife of the OSD of Vijayan, Khan said now that it has been brought to his attention by the media, he “will definitely get it looked into". Regarding the banners of political parties being put up on the university campuses, Khan said he was not forcing the VCs to remove the banners and billboards as otherwise “they will make life difficult for the VC".
“Otherwise, I have the power to order them to remove all the billboards. They are using university property. I think they have developed this hubris that Kerala is their fiefdom," he contended. The ongoing tussle between the Governor and the State government commenced with the selection of the wife of Vijayan’s personal staff as an associate professor in Kannur University despite allegedly being underqualified for the post according to Khan.
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