Following protests by students, the Vice Chancellor of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), has given students hailing from north India studying in the Cochin University College of Engineering, Kuttanad, to perform Saraswati pooja on February 10 and 11 inside the college campus. On February 1, the VC in a circular denied permission to perform the pooja by stating that CUSAT is a secular campus and that religious functions should not be performed in the campus. This decision is said to have irked not just the students, but some of the teachers as well who usually take part in the pooja each year.
Speaking to TNM, Dr N Sunil Kumar, the Principal of the college said, â€śThe students of the college especially those from north India have been performing Saraswati Pooja for many years. Initially, the students used to perform the pooja outside the campus.â€ť
He then explained why the pooja was shifted to within the campus. "When the pooja was performed outside campus, it used to disturb the local residents. Skirmishes used to occur between the students and the locals. Following this, it was decided to perform the pooja inside the campus, for which, it is necessary to get the permission of the Vice Chancellor of the University each year," he added.
Like always, the students of CUSAT, on January 25, approached Sunil Kumar, for permission for conducting Saraswati Puja on February 10 and 11. â€śAs the protocol goes, I forwarded the request to the Vice-Chancellor," the Principal explained.
Media reports had speculated that one of the reasons for denying the students permission were the incidents which took place in the college last year. There were reports that vegetarian students of the college were allegedly made to eat beef cutlets by those students who were against them performing the pooja on campus.
However, the Principal of the college had denied all these speculations. â€śThere has been fights and issues in the past but this had nothing to do with those issues. This decision by the VC was purely to avoid any religious functions inside the campus,â€ť he said.
The VCâ€™s decision lead to protests by the students in the Kuttanad campus on Thursday. â€śI had informed the VC about the student protests after which he told me that the students can perform the pooja on the given dates as long as classes are not disturbed,â€ť said Sunil Kumar.
â€śThe VC did not give any written confirmation to me but he has orally said that the pooja can be conducted on February 10 and 11. Preparations for the pooja will be held on February 9,â€ť he added.