SFI staged a spineless drama of deceit, say Kerala Law Academy protesters

Student unions protesting for the permanent removal of Dr Lekshmi Nair have accused SFI of colluding with the management.
SFI staged a spineless drama of deceit, say Kerala Law Academy protesters
SFI staged a spineless drama of deceit, say Kerala Law Academy protesters
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Even after the Kerala Law Academy announced the stepping down of Dr Lekshmi Nair from the post of Principal, every single protest shed in front of the Academy was buzzing with activity, save one… that of the Students Federation of India (SFI) the student wing of CPI(M).

SFI had earlier on Tuesday ended its 17-day stir, saying that the college management had assured them in writing that Lekshmi was on her way out.

However, all other student unions such as KSU (Congress), AISF (CPI), MSF (Muslim League) and ABVP (BJP) are continuing with their agitation, demanding nothing short of a complete ouster of Lekshmi Nair.

What the management did was just announce a band-aid measure to contain the burgeoning protests rather than address the underlying issues, thereby letting the wounds fester even more, said VS Achuthanandan, a Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission member and CPI(M) veteran, who is the only one from the party who dared to take an opposing stance.

On Tuesday, Dr Lekshmi Nair was removed from her post, with the Vice Principal stepping in to discharge duties of the Principal for now. According to an Academy press release, Lekshmi would not hold even a faculty position in the Academy for the next five years.

Going by what Academy Director Narayanan Nair - who also happens to be the institute’s founder, and Lekshmi’s father - she would be made Director of the Centre for Advanced Legal Studies and Research (CALSAR) that is the Research Wing of the Academy at Punnen Road in Thiruvananthapuram.

As the protests crossed the three-week mark on Wednesday, the agitators allege that SFI and its parent organisation - the CPI(M) - were going out of their way to help the college management deal with the crisis.

“We had an inkling this would happen. Even as all other student unions spontaneously joined protests 22 days ago, SFI chose to tag along only a couple of days later. They were obviously reluctant to join in, as the CPI(M) shares very close ties with the management.

Hence all they wanted to do was to back out of the strike at the earliest, and that is exactly what they did. Merely keeping Lekshmi Nair out of office for the next five years does not make sense. They are pretty vague about it too,” alleges V Muraleedharan, BJP National Executive member and former state president, while speaking to The News Minute.

Muraleedhran also reiterated his commitment to going ahead with his indefinite hunger strike - which entered its eighth day - until Lekshmi Nair was stripped of all appointments at the Academy or related institutions.

Amal John, Academy KSU president, who completed six days of hunger strike outside the college, says that SFI deceived one and all by enacting a spineless drama.

“A written assurance given by the management that apparently promises Lekshmi Nair would keep away for the next five years is as worthless as waste paper. She can very well approach a court of law and get reinstated. Even if she proceeds on leave, she can always cancel the same, and rejoin duty," he said.

"What does this prove then? SFI’s spineless attitude, that’s all. In the initial days of the protest, all SFI leaders did was to hang out at her office,” rages Amal.

AIYF leader Rahul Raveendran who was on a three-day hunger strike, concurred with Amal, terming the SFI protest as one which was carried out just for the sake of it.

“When all other unions continue united in their protests, SFI was busy conducting hurried discussions with the management, and in about four hours, came up with a unilateral decision supporting the management on Tuesday. What a cowardly act!” Rahul fumes.

Namitha A, a final-year LLB student who is on protest representing Academy Ladies Hostel inmates, says that such decisions by some unions has no bearing on their protest, which she insists will continue till Lekshmi Nair is on her permanent way out. “Our fight is all about our right to stay in the hostel with dignity," she said.

ABVP state secretary Shyamraj terms the SFI betrayal act as that of Judas: “Spineless cowards, spies of management, that’s what they are. All they did was betray the honest intent of these protests. Even as various leaders are on hunger strikes, they went and deceived us all.”

Meanwhile, reports abound about how SFI was forced to dilute its stance due to immense pressure from the parent party. Refuting all allegations of deceit and betrayal, SFI state president Jaick C Thomas told The News Minute that it was nothing but a successful conclusion to their protests.

“They (management) agreed to all our demands. The Principal has been removed from all official duties, and also from the faculty for the next five years. Even if she is resigns now, being a private college, she can always be reinstated, as the government does not have the legal right to oppose the same,” Jaick explains.

The BJP hartal held in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday to protest against police action on an ABVP protest march and road blockade on the previous day, turned even more violent with the saffron protesters clashing head-on with the police.

The police in turn resorted to lathi-charge, grenades and water-cannons to deal with flying stones and glass bottles hurled at them by the charging protesters.

Courtesy for all images: Sreekesh Raveendran Nair

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