Kochi: The International Education Meet 2006, which got off to a smooth start here after the initial round of protests by Left groups, has been hit by a fresh controversy over inviting a professor from the ”University of Azad Kashmir” for the meet. The four-day conference was inaugurated by Kerala Governor R L Bhatia on Saturday evening amidst protests by several Left-affiliated students groups, which alleged that the meet was aimed at opening the gates for foreign universities to set base in the state.
In a fresh controversy, eyebrows have been raised about the organisers inviting Prof. Manzoor Hussain Khan, from the ”University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan”, to give a presentation of. Hussain Khan, who was listed to participate in a session on ‘Experience Sharing-Global Trends in Higher education this morning, however did not turn up for the conference.
Citing a clarification given by Kerala Education Minister E T Mohammad Basheer, the media managers for the conference said that the university name and address was downloaded from the website of the ‘Association of Commonwealth Universities
While admitting that the Indian Government desginates the area concerned as ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’, they said the nomenclature used in the conference programme was an ”oversight”.
”There was no other intention,” they added. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was at first scheduled to inaugurate the conference on February 4. However, as his programme got tentatively rescheduled for February 7 and 8, Dr Singh was expected to address the valedictory function tomorrow.
But, with Dr Singh’s visit to Kerala being postponed again, Union Minister fo r Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamad are expected to attend the valedictory function.