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Kerala Law College Students Call Off Strike After 29 Days

Thiruvananthapuram: The 29-day long strike by Kerala Law Academy students was called on Thursday off after the management and students entered into an agreement.

The students were on strike demanding resignation of their principal Lekshmi Nair over alleged unfair internal marks and attendance.

The students also alleged principal gave good marks to her favourite students and verbally abused them.

Education Minister C Raveendranath on Wednesday called a meeting of students and the management to strike a deal.

The agreement between the students and the management stated that Lekshmi Nair will be removed and a new principal will be appointed. The government has agreed to intervene if the management breached the terms of agreement which has been signed by the government, management and students.

The strike by the students was launched under the banner of various students organisations including KSU, AISF, MSF and ABVP.

The strike had its political implications as Opposition Congress and BJP accused the CPM of favouring the principal as she comes from a prominent left affiliated family. Nair’s uncle is a prominent leader of the CPM.

Congress and the BJP tried to use students’ strike to their advantage.

Congress MLA K Muraleedharan and BJP leaders V Muraleedharan and V V Rajesh sat on a hunger strike in front of the law academy to press for demand of the students. The law academy also witnessed a series of protests that turned violent in the past few days.

CPI played a key role in bringing affected parties to the discussion table as party State Secretary Kanam Rajendran and Minister V S Sunil Kumar held talks with the students.

SFI which has been on the forefront of all student agitations was also criticized for their role in the strike. Striking students said that they were unhappy with the way SFI ended the strike and entered into an agreement with the management.

“We felt that we were betrayed by the SFI. We also felt that the government was not protecting us and our interests initially and was supporting of the management,” said a student.

Meanwhile, SFI has denied all allegations saying that the new agreement has nothing more than what they had got from the management on January 31.

Since other political parties wanted to play politics, the strike went on for so many days, SFI added.

“What more do they (students) have in this new agreement than what the SFI had initially entered into with the management. We had raised all the issues faced by the students and got things done from the management. But many were playing politics in the name of students strike and that is why they wanted to extend the strike. At the time we entered into an agreement with management, the students said that they will not call of the strike until principal does not resign. But the principal has not resigned even today. The management has removed her just like what they agreed with us in the initial agreement,” Said Vijin, State secretary of the SFI.

But the students have a quick reply to SFI’s argument. Students say that in the new agreement they have got an assurance from the state education minster that the government will intervene if the management goes back on the terms.

The unsung heroes of the strike were group of girl students who were without any political affiliation and joined the strike under the banner of `Vidhyardhi Aikyam.’

These students, who were mostly hostelers, had joined the strike as they had been at the receiving end of the Principal Lakshmy Nair.

Arya V John, one of the girl students who joined the strike, said that around 150 students who were staying in the hostels had started the strike after erecting a separate pandal in the name of `Vidhyardhi Aikyam.’

“There were pressures from various quarters both on the striking girls and their parents to withdraw the strike. The management had also put pressure on the students to ensure that they stay away from the campus during the strike days. However, we were able to successfully withstand such pressures,” said Arya.