The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teacher and the taught at odds

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 19: Student leaders and politicians in Kerala do not see eye to eye with academics and parents on the high court’s nod to allow police inside college campuses during trouble.

The court upheld the right of the police to enter campuses “without the request or permission” of the authorities “to prevent criminal activities”, “if the situation so warrants”.

The ruling followed an appeal against a state executive order allowing the police entry when summoned by the principal.

Student organisations consider the verdict a follow-up to the May 26 division bench judgment that endorsed the right of college managements to ban politics on campus.

The latest judgment must be opposed collectively by all student organisations, said SFI state chief P.K. Biju. “The entry of the police will only vitiate the college atmosphere,” he said, emphasising that college councils were equipped to deal with campus violence.

P.V. Vishnunath, the Kerala Students Union president, was not available, but he was credited with the view that the principal’s sanction should be sought for the police to enter.

S. Guptan Nair, a professor and a leading light of the Vidyabhyasa Suraksha Samiti, agreed that the primary responsibility for maintaining peace on campus belonged to the principal.

But principals often shirked responsibility, leaving no option other than calling the police, he said. The police should be more humane while tackling students, Nair added.

M. Kunhaman, the head of Kerala University’s department of economics, said: “The police should be kept out of the campus to ensure academic ambience. Colleges should have a mechanism to pre-empt the police”. Hehe added: “Only if there is a flashpoint can we even think of a role for the police.” Kunhaman had earlier applauded the court verdict banning campus politics.

Only the Youth Congress believed there was no alternative to police as “SFI-sponsored violence” had marred campus life.

“Campus atmosphere took a turn for the worse in 1980s when the SFI started hegemonising colleges through terror. Principals often looked the other way for fear of reprisals. Hence, if the court has been forced by circumstances into issuing a verdict that might vitiate the (college) atmosphere, the responsibility lies with the SFI,” Youth Congress state chief K.P. Anil Kumar said.

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