Academic attacked. An assault on engineer Ramamurthy Natarajan might be linked to labor disputes at the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, which Natarajan heads.

Indian Technology Head Beaten Up

NEW DELHI--The director of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai was assaulted this week in an incident that may be linked to continuing labor unrest at the institute.

Ramamurthy Natarajan, a mechanical engineer, received cuts to his neck and scalp after two persons attacked him Monday night with knives and sickles. The attack occurred during a wedding reception for his daughter in Chennai. The assailants are still at large.

Police are investigating whether the attack is connected to the recent sacking of the president and secretary of the IIT Employees Union. The two employees were dismissed for disrupting work at the institute, which has had poor relations with labor for several years. In 1998, the institute, which has 3000 students and an annual budget of $25 million, was shut down temporarily after employees demanded a better pay structure and more opportunities for advancement. The recent sackings have inflamed relations between employees and management.

Former IIT Director Pavagada Venkata Indiresan, a chemical engineer, says that the institute is "heavily overstaffed and in need of heavy pruning." Natarajan, who is recovering from his injuries, vows to continue to implement these reforms.

Related site

Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, home page