When the students of Jawaharlal College of Engineering in Lakkidi in Palakkad district walked into their classrooms on Wednesday morning, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. However, a few minutes after the first bell went off at 9am, the students began to grow restless when they noticed that not one of their teachers had turned up for class.
To their dismay, the students learnt that their teachers had decided to strike work in protest of the students' agitation against the management.
Jawaharlal College of Engineering is a part of the Nehru Group of Institutions, and is a sister college of the Nehru College of Engineering and Research in Thrissur. The Thrissur college has been at the centre of a storm over the death of a first-year student, Jishnu Pranoy, on January 6. The police have named Nehru Group Chairman P Krishnadas as the prime accused in the case.
And just as protests shut down the Thrissur campus, the Lakkidi college too saw strong agitations from the students, with both colleges reopening only on February 17. Even after the college reopened, however, protests against management continued.
On Wednesday, said a student who did not want to be named, the Heads of various departments of the college locked up the staff rooms and refused to teach the students. The student, in the second year of his degree in Computer Science, told The News Minute that the teachers' were clearly in support of the management.
"Yesterday, the students put up posters in all the departments against the Chairman. The teachers pulled them down. Following this, we put up the same posters on the college buses and one of the teachers even came up with a bucket of water to take it down. The students resisted this and began sloganeering against the management," the student said.
He added that ever since the college re-opened, the teachers have been openly expressing their displeasure at the students for speaking against the management. "During a parent-teacher meeting held two days ago, the teachers made it clear that they stand by the management in all of its actions," the student added.
On Wednesday, the students seemed at a loss for what to do for the first few minutes. However, after the initial confusion, they came up with an improvised solution for their situation. One of the students walked up to the front of one of the classes, and began conducting the lecture. Soon, several other classes followed suit.
"We have already lost more than a month of classes and are falling short of attendance this semester. We cannot, at any cost, afford to lose more classes. More than the instruction of the teachers, what we need is for the classes to go on," a student told The News Minute.
While the students were ready to speak out against the college authorities, the teachers were unwilling to comment on their actions. Two professors that TNM reached out to refused to answer any calls on the subject, the Principalâ€™s office claimed that the Principal, Dr VP Sukumaran Nair, was held up in meetings.