Moral policing is hardly a new subject for many of India’s colleges, which enforce rules from what women should wear to how male and female students should conduct themselves on and off campus. Now, a Kerala college has gone a step further, issuing a circular ‘advising’ girl students to avoid traveling on motorbikes and scooters with male students.
Claiming that the circular was issued based on the police’s directives, the principal of Mount Zion Law College in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district states, “The Police Authorities have alerted the head of the educational institutions to discourage the tendency of girl students traveling in motor bikes and scooters with boys. Accordingly girl students are advised to desist from this practice. It has been noticed that some of the students who regularly use the college bus follow the above practice occasionally (sic).”
But the principal of the college in Kadammanitta came out with a clause that if girl students still wished to “follow this practice”, they must get written consent from their parents. The circular dated January 11 also gives these female students the option of sharing their parents’ contact number with college officials. This would allow college officials “direct enquiry” on the matter with the concerned parents, states the circular.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Paul Gomez, the principal of Mount Zion Law College had claimed that the notice was issued as per the directions of the police regarding the safety of pillion riders. The principal had also clarified that the college hasn't restricted girl students from riding two-wheelers.
However, the Pathanamthitta police has categorically denied issuing such a directive. This has now forced the college to withdraw the controversial circular.
When TNM reached out to the principal, he said that the circular that was issued on January 11 was withdrawn after students opposed it.
Asked why the circular was issued, Paul said that officials from an engineering college had told him about the "dangers of girl students traveling with boy students on two wheelers" and that had prompted him to come up with the rule.
The principal, however, refused to comment on why he had changed his statement regarding the police advisory.