Altercation between students and staff leaves teacher injured

Three students of the Government Law College here were suspended on Tuesday after a teacher was injured during an altercation. Tension prevailed at the college after students cutting across political affiliations struck classes, barged into the principal’s room and laid siege to it.

The situation worsened following an altercation between a group of protesting students and S.S. Girisankar, an assistant professor at the college. A staff council meeting held later in the day decided to close down the college indefinitely on the grounds that the atmosphere was not conducive for conducting classes. The college also decided to suspend three students, two of them from the three-year LL.B. course and one from the five-year course. The college also faxed a letter to the Principal Secretary, Higher Education, giving details of the incident.

While the students alleged that the professor manhandled one of them, the professor dismissed the allegation saying he was the victim and suffered bruises. Both the parties lodged police complaints and got admitted to a hospital for treatment. The students then laid siege to the road in front of the college.

The volatile situation has been prevailing in the college ever since eight students of the five-year LLB course were not allowed to take the fourth semester exams for allegedly having low attendance. Seventy five per cent attendance is required for writing an exam. Those with attendance between 50 per cent and 75 per cent are condoned.

The college authorities said students with less than 50 per cent attendance were detained, whereby they would not be promoted to the next semester and hence not allowed to write exams. While authorities claimed this was the accepted practice, the students said there was no such mandatory practice.

The students sat on a hunger strike in front of the college from last Wednesday. Students’ organisations cutting across political parties took up their case and struck classes on Thursday.

On Friday, the principal accepted their demand and gave a representation to the MG University to allow the students to appear for the exam.

MG University Vice-Chancellor A.V. George, however, said a decision on the matter was left to the discretion of the Principal. The students then struck classes on Monday and Tuesday which led to the untoward incidents.

Afsal Hassainar, one of the detained students, alleged that there was no transparency in marking attendance. Attendance was a weapon used against students disliked by college authorities.

“We are ready to accept the college mechanism for marking attendance. But they should explain how students who never attended classes were not detained and why those like us who attended the classes were detained. We will now lose almost a year,” he said. Mr. George said the varsity has no role in matters related to attendance, which was in the domain of the Principal.

College Principal A.S. Saroja, however, said her right was limited to students eligible to be condoned. She said the students had taken their case to the court, but failed to get a favourable verdict and had been resorting to intimidating tactics since then.

Sethuraj, a KSU activist on the campus, alleged that a student suspended for a couple of months and another who rarely attended classes on account of party work were allowed to write exams.

“The principal can now at least spare the affected students the ordeal of having to sit out of the college for six months. She can allow notional registration, whereby they can attend the next semester but will have to write the fourth semester exams as supplementary,” he said.

Ms. Saroja, however, said she could not contradict her stand, including the affidavit filed in court. This leaves the students with the sole option of joining the students getting promoted to the fourth semester in June.

Mr. Girisankar said as the class teacher of the fourth semester students he had the attendance records of all students with him.

“Even students with 40 per cent attendance have been condoned. We even extended the classes to let the students achieve 40 per cent attendance but they didn’t use it,” he said.

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