Never in the recent past have Onam celebrations become so controversial in Kerala.
First it was the revelry at College of Engineering in Thiruvananthapuram campus which claimed the life of a girl student, then the pictures of students of the Adoor IHRD Engineering college using a fire truck and heavy vehicles as part of celebrations.
Under pressure and also realising that this would be the right time to crack the whip, the Kerala government has decided to call for a meeting of representatives from student organizations on September 2 to discuss regulations to be implemented in campuses.
One of the proposals chalked out in a meeting of college principals and Vice chancellors chaired by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and Education Minister Abdu Rabb on Tuesday was to allow police to enter campuses when necessary and weed out trouble makers from the campuses. The meeting has proposed police raids in campus and student hostels when needed.
The September 2 meeting will discuss these and other proposals including restrictions on celebrations, banning entry of vehicles and alumni inside the campus.
The News Minute asked representatives of leading students groups in Kerala on how they view the latest development.
Student Federation of India (SFI)
SFI is in complete disagreement, to put it simply.
â€śWhat happened in CET was painful, but campus is a creative place to celebrate, love and live. You cannot hinder freedom of students, just because of one or two isolated and unfortunate incidents,"said Chintha Jerome, SFI State Vice President.
She also questions the intention behind letting police enter campuses. "How can police enter campuses and conduct raids? Democracy will lost and police will behave in accordance to what their political masters want,â€ť she said.
Jerome also suggested that existing rules in the colleges should be implemented to control trouble makers.
She also denied that SFI had any role to play in the CET mishap.
â€śSFI has mass membership, those accused may be SFI supporters but they were not members of any SFI committees. Whoever committed an offense, should be arrested irrespective of which party they belong to,â€ť she said.
Kerala Student Union (KSU)
KSU is with the government, but only midway.
â€śAll celebrations need not be stopped, but certain government regulations are necessary in some campuses to ensure a peaceful atmosphere prevails,â€ť said Advocate AM Rohith, KSU State Vice President.
KSU is not averse to police interfering in campus issues.
â€śSometimes teachers and college managements become helpless, as crimes like drug abuse and violent politics even resorting to the use of weapons plays out inside colleges and student hostels. In such cases, police involvement becomes necessary,â€ť Rohith added.
He also said regulators should make sure that student freedom is not curtailed.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)
ABVP believes that CET and IHRD incidents are a rarity and it does not warrant police interference all the time.
â€śPolice can interfere in extreme situations, but the main regulations should be conceived and implemented by college managements,â€ť CK Rakesh ABVP State President said.
He said that ABVP has been seeking governmentâ€™s interference to curtial criminal activities in campuses for last many years.
Muslim Student Federation (MSF)
MSF has sought strict regulations against anarchy in campuses. The allege that what happened in CET and IHRD were acts by the devil.
â€śMany college campuses and hostels have been reduced to weapon godowns and serve as hideouts for quotation gangs. In this scenario, police should conduct sudden raids and explore all criminal activities inside college,â€ť PG Muhammed, MSF State General Secretary said.
â€śAn educational institution is a pure place; you cannot consume alcohol and use drugs inside the hostel and campus. Creative talent should be nurtured here, not criminal activities,â€ť he adds
He said that MSF supports government completely.
However none of the student groups want a ban on campus politics. That's one thing they all agree about.