A student of the Sree Kerala Varma college, Deepa Nisanth has been a lecturer in the Malayalam department of her alma mater for four years. But Deepa Nisanth is no longer just another lecturer among hundreds of others in the state.
A single Facebook post has made her the hottest topic of discussion in the state in the past couple of days. Her unflinching support to beef fests being organised to condone the Dadri lynching has hogged headlines in most mainstream media publications. The Home minister, leader of opposition, many other politicians, thinkers and a large section of the public have declared solidarity with her.
But Deepa Nisanth says she never expected the post to become such a news event. "I never imagined that a Facebook post would start such a debate. The intention was never to start a debate or grab attention," she told The News Minute in an interview.
On October 1, student members of the SFI unit of the Sree Kerala Varma college had organised a beef fest which had ended in violent clashes, with protesting ABVP members getting beaten up. Some students had complained that teachers just watched and did nothing to intervene when they were getting beaten.
A couple of days after the incident, the lecturer had written that if the college was going to act against teachers who supported the fest, her name should be right on top. "I did mean that when I wrote it."
"I was not there when it happened. The Facebook post was more in solidarity with all beef fests. There was never an intention to provoke student groups and that is just not in my character," she said.
Many of her critics have asked why it was necessary to have a beef fest in a college that supposedly does not allow non-vegetarian food in the campus. The college run by the Cochin Devasom Board had said that action had been taken against SFI students for the violence and for bringing non-vegetarian food inside the campus.
"That's not true. There is no written rule that people cannot eat non-vegetarian food in the campus. Many bring non-vegetarian food in their lunch boxes. How can such rules be conveniently quoted now?ā€¯ she asked.
"Here, I am allowed to have an opinion. I cannot be in any place where I cannot voice my opinion," she added.
But is there really a threat in Kerala of rising fascism or is it being exaggerated? "I think the threat exists everywhere. And anyway a beef fest in one corner is in solidarity with an event in another corner."
The lecturer is quite amazed at the support she has received. "I have seen all the reactions and I am very happy. It reflects well on society when a small opinion can churn a big debate," she said.
But there have been downsides to her post going viral. While many have praised the teacher, she has been criticised and trolled massively. "That's only natural. I have read many comments degrading me, but that simply exposes their culture and mentality. I have no complaints about it, they are free to dislike my opinion," she concludes.