Kerala Law Academy student protests to continue as talks fail

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 4 (IANS) The conciliation talks between the students of Kerala Law Academy, who have been protesting for the last 25 days, and State Education Minister C. Ravendranath failed on Saturday with the students claiming that the minister walked out from the meeting.

However, the minister denied the claim.

“Taking part in the talks was the management, various student leaders and the government. The student leaders (barring the CPI-M’s student organisation SFI) were demanding that the principal should be ousted and they wanted a written assurance form the management.

“The management had made it clear that she has been moved and the vice principal has been given the charge. I also told the management that they should now appoint a new principal at the earliest. But the student leaders wanted a written assurance and I ended the meeting and came out. I never walked out,” the minister said.

There are other issues with regard to the land, case against the principal under SC/ST Atrocities Act and all such issues will go forward, he added.

The student protests began 25 days ago, demanding the ouster of Principal Lakshmi Nair, who, they claim, has flouted the basic rules and regulations with respect to allotment of internal marks and attendance. They also accused her of acting ruthlessly and with vengeance.

On January 31, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) surprised everyone by pulling out of the strike stating that all demands had been accepted.

State Kerala Students Union (KSU) President (student wing of the Congress party) V.S. Joy said the minister behaved as if he was an agent of the academy management.

“Our demands are not met and our demand is that the principal should never ever be involved with the academy. Since our demands are not met, the protests would go forward more vigorously,” Joy said.

A representative of the academy management told the media that regular classes will now commence from Monday onwards and the academy will seek police protection.

Meanwhile, local Congress legislator K. Muraleedharan’s indefinite fast entered the third day and so also the one by BJP leader V.V. Rajesh, both of whom are supporting the ongoing student protests, terming their demands as valid.

Political parties have been claiming that nearly 12 acres of land on which the academy stands has been usurped by the management of the academy.

However, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan feigned ignorance about the land issue and said his government cannot intervene in the matter.

Reacting sharply to Vijayan’s statement, former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said that the statement of Vijayan is wrong and the state government should intervene and take back the usurped land.

State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran, a senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader, said that a probe by his department is currently on and once the report comes, appropriate action would be taken.

Barring the CPI-M, all other political parties are up in arms against the manner in which the academy is functioning and have demanded that the state government step in and take over the now controversial academy.

In a release issued here on Saturday, Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam said that he has forwarded a petition submitted by State BJP President Kummanam Rajasekharan to the Chief Minister for immediate consideration and action on the issue of the affiliation of the academy.