TN law student slams Kathua rape and patriarchy, gets suspended by college

The suspension letter handed to Priya states that she spoke in a “manner that incites clashes among students on the basis of sex and religion.”
TN law student slams Kathua rape and patriarchy, gets suspended by college
TN law student slams Kathua rape and patriarchy, gets suspended by college
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The brutal rape and murder of an 8-year-old child from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir has shaken the conscience of India. Even as the country came together to demand answers for a heinous act, a law college student in Tamil Nadu was suspended for speaking out against the brutal crime and questioning patriarchy.

Priya, a third-year student at the Government Law College, Coimbatore has been actively involved in student politics and demonstrations against the government. On Friday afternoon, students in the English class, that Priya was a part of, were invited to speak on any issue of their choice in order to overcome stage fright.

Speaking to TNM, Priya says, “We had only two hours of class yesterday (Friday). The second hour was English. Our English teacher told us that she had covered the syllabus for our exams in May. She said we could do some public speaking. So, she called the boys first. None of them came forward. Then she asked the girls and I came forward.”

Taking on the subject of patriarchy and toxic male domination in society, Priya says, “I spoke about the rape of the girl in Kashmir because it is a huge issue. I said that an 8-year-old child was raped for many days inside of a temple. The reason for this is not men, it's not the clothes that women wear. Even a two-year-old is raped and killed. The basis for all this is the society's patriarchal thought. It portrays women as a drug and an object of male desire. It doesn't show them as a fellow human life. We should speak up against such representations. As students of law, this is fundamental to us."

So, what landed her in trouble? She alleges that after her speech, a few of her classmates also spoke on similar lines but a few boys left the class and chanced upon Professor Ammu, another lecturer, outside in the corridor. Professor Ammu reportedly asked the boys what was happening in class. She then entered the classroom and gave the English teacher a piece of her mind for letting them speak on political issues, says Priya.

Less than two hours later, Priya was handed a letter of suspension by the college principal.

"On 13.04.2018, Professor Ammu and fellow classmates of R Priya of Coimbatore Government Law College have complained that she has spoken in a manner that incites clashes among students on the basis of sex and religion, prevented the teacher from doing her job when she tried to stop such incitement of violence, and acted in a threatening manner,” reads the suspension letter.

It goes on to say, “In the complaint, the students state that Priya's activities prevent classes from taking place and that Priya forces the students to cut class to protest against the government and posts in harsh words on WhatsApp about students who refuse to listen to her."

The letter also states that Priya is “temporarily dismissed” from college, and she cannot enter the campus without the permission of the Principal.

Priya alleges that since Suryanarayana Sastry took over as Vice Chancellor of the Ambedkar University (Government Law College, Coimbatore is affiliated), there has been a crackdown on students who are politically active.

“This is not the first time something like this is happening. We asked for permission to celebrate Ambedkar Jayanthi but we were refused. Professor Ammu makes the watchman record videos of my demonstrations outside the campus. She plays it to the principal,” alleges Priya, who is a member of the Left-leaning Revolutionary Student Front.

With exams in less than a month and a suspension in hand, Priya is determined to fight this. “The teachers can change their story, but all the students are on my side. I will stand and face this,” she says.

Professor Ammu told TNM that she was not the right person to comment on the issue.

Principal Gopalakrishnan said, "That student is in Revolutionary Student Front. She is continuously working against the government and the college management. She is inciting students to protest against the government. She has the right to participate in social work. But we cannot accept such work inside the college campus. For the past few years, Coimbatore Government Law College has been functioning well. At such a time, that student is looking to tarnish the name of the college management. Professor Ammu and her classmates have given a three page complaint on her in this regard. Only after this, we suspended her. We did not suspend for any personal reasons. Suspension is not punishment. In February alone, we suspended eight students. Of them, seven students' suspensions were revoked. But, this issue has now gone to the Law Education Director. Only they can decide about revoking the order of suspension. A committee of three professors has been constituted with regard to this issue."

With inputs from Sudhakar

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