She lodges a complaint with Collector immediately

The Regional Joint Director of Collegiate Education, K. M. Ponnathal, had described the American College as an “unsafe place” right now because of the “presence of hooligans and a drunken group on the campus.”

She lodged a complaint with the Collector, U. Sagayam, immediately after she was gheraoed by a group in public glare inside the campus on Wednesday morning when she had gone to oversee staff attendance in the wake of a long tussle between two groups that have been fighting over the college administration issue.

“American College is not a safe place…even for the staff working there under Government-aided category. I had complained to the Collector about what happened to me on the campus. Those who gheraoed me looked like hooligans and seemed to have drunk. They drove me out of the campus and I am concerned about the staff safety in the light of today's incident,” Dr. Ponnathal toldThe Hinduafter briefing the Collector.

The Joint Director of Collegiate Education went to the college at around 9 a.m. to ensure that classes/staff attendance was normal. Several of the college staff have not got their salary for the past eleven months since there has been a dispute on the issue over the principal and secretary post of Madurai's prestigious college.

According to her, the problem erupted when she was in the Mathematics Department.

“Some persons raised slogans against me and I was literally driven out. The Collector said that he would talk to the Chief Secretary and others on this issue. Police will be posted for one week and I have been advised to continue my work on the American College issue,” she said.

Meanwhile, the college did not present a good sight on the very first day of a new semester on Wednesday. While the “groups under trees” were back again, the presence of police too raised concerns for the warring groups.

“We will not allow law and order problem on our campus. I am very much for smooth sailing. However, the Regional Joint Director is exceeding her brief and interfering with the internal matters of a Christian minority institution. Her role is only to look into the matters of Government aided staff in this college,” M. D. Christopher, the new Principal and Secretary of the college, said.

Mr. Christopher and other senior faculty members in the ruling group of American College claimed that a group of students got furious when the Joint Director was making “unnecessary enquires” on matters that were “out of her purview” and more so with the details of management staff (on consolidated salary).

“Taking a decision on management staff is purely an issue to be decided by the governing council and not by the JD. If some of those staff members wanted to come back, let them give an appeal to the governing council. This is our stand and what is wrong in that,” the Principal questioned.

According to him, the two groups in American College — both teaching and non-teaching — in the aided category have responded positively to the normalcy initiatives taken by the Regional Joint Director of Collegiate Education so as to ensure that salary disbursal by the State Government is not affected.

The opposing group representative, K. Anbunathan of the Department of Management Studies said that their fear about the presence of unruly elements on campus got vindicated with the chasing away of the official.

Meanwhile, the governing council meeting is scheduled to meet on Thursday evening to deliberate on various issues.