Kannan Gopinathan, the IAS officer who resigned from service last month citing curbs on freedom of expression imposed on the people of Jammu and Kashmir, was reportedly stopped from visiting Jaykar Knowledge Resource Centre (JKRC), the library at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) on Monday.
While Gopinathan said students wanted him to visit the library and that they “dropped the idea” after a confrontation between the students and library officials, Aparna Rajendra, director-in-charge of JKRC, said she was merely following procedures by asking for an application for the officer’s visit.
“We would have happily shown him the library, but since the reading hall is also used by other students, holding a public talk or lecture there would not have been possible,” Rajendra said. “It would have disturbed the other students.”
Gopinathan, who was in Pune to deliver a talk on Sunday evening and was at SPPU campus on Monday as part of exploring the city, told The Indian Express over telephone, “The students were very excited and wanted to show me the campus, including the library. But as conversation between students and the library official got into a confrontational mode, we decided not to escalate the matter further and dropped the idea of visiting the library. Personally, it was an experience.”
According to students who were with Gopinathan, they arrived at the library around 11.30 am and informed the official about Gopinathan’s visit. The students said they are clueless why library officials insisted that they submit an application for his visit.
Maintaining that she sought the application as part of maintaining records, Rajendra said, “We had no information on Gopinathan’s visit. Visits involving high-ranking officers require an official communication made through the registrar’s office. So I advised the students to submit an application for this, which is part of maintaining our records.”
Student members of Yuvak Kranti Dal, Maharashtra, who were with Gopinathan, alleged that library officials behaved rudely when permission was sought. Kamalakar Chandrakala, a second-year commerce student of SPPU and a member of the outfit, said, “The official did not inform us why the application was required. We didn’t know the official procedure but would have followed it. But we were upset at the manner in which the library officials spoke to us.”
The students later held an informal discussion with Gopinathan at the varsity’s Aniket canteen and also visited the main building of SPPU.