The Opposition staged a walkout from the Assembly on Friday accusing the government of abetting the politics of violence and intolerance on campuses and creating a situation conducive for fundamentalist forces to influence students.
Replying to the notice for an adjournment motion moved by P.T.Thomas and others on the seizure of weapons from the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the Opposition was trying to create a smokescreen to divert attention from the government's attempt to convert colleges into centres of excellence.
Citing the FIR, he said the police had seized several implements such as rods, pipes, and planks that could be used for construction purposes. “There were no weapons. The room from where the implements were seized had been vacated by students earlier. A ladder was found leaning on the window of the room. Only an investigation will reveal the intention.”
Rubbishing the explanation, Mr.Thomas produced newspaper reports about the seizure of weapons, including swords, from the campus. He said the Maharaja’s College had turned into a den of criminals and anti-social elements who were emboldened by the government’s reluctance to act on the college council’s recommendation for action against 12 teachers in a case relating to the burning of the Principal’s chair.
Mr.Thomas said the SFI and the ABVP were unleashing a reign of terror in government colleges to help self-financing institutions. “In the process, they are opening space for fundamentalist forces to step in and influence students.”
In his reply, the Chief Minister said the government had not tried to shield the guilty in the chair-burning case. Three students had been arrested and the investigation was progressing. He added that there was no alarming situation in colleges.
Terming the seizure of weapons from the Maharaja’s College as the proverbial tip of the iceberg, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said it pointed to the rising trend of violence and suppression of democratic rights on campuses. The incident, he said, had cast a slur on the college with a glorious tradition.
Opposition members, including those of the Kerala Congress (Mani) group and the lone BJP legislator O.Rajagopal, trooped out the House after the Speaker refused permission to take up the issue for discussion.