There seems to be no signs of a letdown even after two weeks of burgeoning protests by students of the Kerala Law Academy in Thiruvananthapuram, demanding the Principalâs -Dr. Lekshmi Nair- resignation alleging mismanagement.
The Pinarayi government has now been forced to step in with state Education Minister C Raveendranath all set to meet the agitating students on Wednesday evening in a bid to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Special Cell has been directed by the state Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes to look in to allegations against the college Management forcing Dalit students to do menial jobs.
The Hindu reports that a fourth-semester student deposed before the Commission about how SC/ST students were forced to lift heavy objects and serve food to participants during programmes organised by the college, especially when national-level moot courts were held there.
There were also complaints about how Dalit students were being unfairly denied educational benefits due to them by the Management.
This comes on the heels of the state Human Rights Commission registering a suo motu case against the Principal for reportedly disparaging Dalit students by their caste names.
An audio clip too was released online wherein Lekshmi was purportedly heard threatening a student with a âyear outâ for faking illness.
The studentâs mother told Mathrubhumi News that the Principal had thrown out the medical certificate submitted saying that even a nonentity could get hold of a medical certificate these days.
Political leaders cutting across party affiliations dropped in at the protest venue to express their solidarity with the cause. This included state Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, K S Sabarinathan MLA, KP Sasikala, K Surendran, Kummanam Rajasekharan among others.
Veteran CPI(M) leader VS Achuthanandan too visited the SFI pandhal at the venue and demanded that the Academy hand over the excess land in its possession to the state government.
Former BJP state president V Muraleedharan began a 48-hour fast in front of the Academy on Wednesdaymorning demanding state government intervention in the matter.
The Principal had declared the Academy shut following protests by student unions over the recent death of Jishnu a first-year computer science student which was termed an âinstitutional murderâ.
Various student organisations including SFI, KSU, MSF and AISF accused the Principal of âdevoting more time to television programmesâ than attending to the academic affairs of the Academy.
Lekshmi is a known face among Malayalis through anchoring of a popular cookery show on television.
They had earlier alleged that Lekshmi had denied them permission to protest against Jishnuâs death, as she feared that the Managementâs corrupt practices would be exposed.
They even went on to accuse her of using her discretion to arbitrarily award internal marks to favoured students, and harass those she did not approve of.
(All photographs by Sreekesh Raveendran Nair)