Students of the famous Victoria College, Palakkad celebrated the retirement of their outgoing principal by digging a grave for her. The symbolic final resting place was prepared on college grounds and a wreath placed on it on March 31, the day the principal with about 30 years’ academic experience retired. They also put up a makeshift headstone and showered petals on its.
In the ensuing furore, the students were arrested and charged under IPC Section 143 (unlawful assembly), Section 147 (rioting) and Section 500 (defaming a person in authority).
Both ruling Congress and the BJP have condemned the incident and sought strict action against erring students.
“The public should come forward to restrain the ideology that prompts the young generation to believe that everyone who opposes them should be annihilated,” said Kerala BJP President Kummanam Rajasekharan. He also questioned the silence of cultural leaders and intelligentsia who, he says, cry cultural invasion and intolerance at the drop of a hat.
The police on Tuesday booked eight students after the outgoing Principal of Victoria College in Palakkad Dr TN Sarasu filed a complaint. When the issue snowballed into a controversy the Students Federation of India, student wing of the CPM, disowned the act and said that it would take action if any of its activists were involved. College authorities say the student outfit and the principal had been at loggerheads over many issues.
In her complaint the principal alleged that the students acted at the behest of some members of the Kerala Government College Teachers’ Union, a Left-leaning organisation. She alleges that she was victimised for enforcing discipline on the campus. The 127-year-old government college is a prestigious educational institution in all of south India. Alumni includes: EMS Namboodiripad, first chief minister of Kerala; TN Seshan, former chief election commissioner; and E Sreedharan, the man behind Konkan Railway and several Metro rail projects in the country.
The principal could not be contacted for comments.