Denied Degree On Time, Ex-Student Sets On Fire University Office

A former student of fine arts at the Maharaja Sayajirao University, who was at the centre of an “obscenity row” in 2007, allegedly set the head office of the varsity on fire as he was apparently angry over delay in conferring degree on him, the police said today.

According to Inspector Haresh Vora at Sayajigunj Police Station, Chandra Mohan, who was a student of the university’s Fine Arts department 11 years ago, has been arrested.

Jigar Inamdar, a member of the Syndicate, a top decision-making body of the MSU, received minor injuries when he tried to remove files during the fire last evening, police said.

Mr Mohan, a native of Warangal district in Telangana, wanted to meet Vice-Chancellor Parimal Vyas to know the reason for delay in getting his degree. He completed his post-graduation in May 2007.

He claimed that despite writing several letters to the university authorities in this regard, there had been no response from them.

According to police, Mr Mohan had come with a bottle of petrol and after a heated argument with Jaikumar Nair, the PA to Mr Vyas, over meeting the vice-chancellor, he emptied the bottle on a sofa in the office and set it on fire.

Two rooms, including the vice-chancellor’s office, were gutted in the blaze. Some files and documents were also destroyed, they said, adding the vice chancellor was not in his office at the time of the incident.

Police claimed that Mr Mohan has confessed to his crime.

Mr Mohan was at the centre of a controversy in 2007 for his art works as the final year student. He had allegedly painted Hindu gods and goddesses in “obscene” postures, which invited the ire of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The paintings, displayed at an exhibition organised in the premises of the 69-year-old university, had triggered a “row” and led to a debate on freedom of expression of artistes.

“It is a very sad incident. I was in Gandhinagar yesterday and this student should have waited for one day to meet me,” the Vice-Chancellor told PTI.

Police Commissioner Manoj Shashidhar said Mr Mohan will be produced in a court, where police will seek his remand.