Friday, March 24, 2006

Student Violence

The student unrest in Sathyabhama University on the Old Mahabhalipuram Road in Chennai has shut the varsity down indefinitely causing concern among students over whether the semester examinations that are to begin on April 17 will be held.
Students of the deemed university - many of them who plan to go abroad after their engineering studies - fear that their examinations may not be held on time this year. Students have gone on a rampage at the varsity’s campus thrice since March 1, when violence first broke out.
After that instances of violence were repeated on March 22 and 23, when the management finally decided to close down the University.
At the heart of the differences between the students and the management is the lack of approval by the All-India Institute of Technical Education (AICTE) to the courses offered by Sathyabhama University. The management contends that it is a deemed university and, therefore, does not need AICTE approval, while students fear that the lack of recognition would hamper their careers.
On March 23, the students went on an unprecedented rampage, burning down an open-air auditorium at the campus and wrecking the classrooms and laboratories. Students allege that the authoritarian regime at the college is also one of the reasons for the violence. Sources said that often girls and boys are prevented from talking to one another at the co-education varsity.
Students have also alleged that the management is ruthlessly trying to suppress the unrest by hiring goondas and dividing the students along regional lines. They said the management should try and resolve their problems instead of suppressing the protests. Many students have started leaving their hostels fearing further violence.
On news channels, the faces of students being interviewed are being masked, leading to fears that the university management may take extreme steps in putting the issue to rest. A CNN-IBN report mentioned that its cameraman at the scene was attacked and his videotape burned.
Violence has also broken out at the SRM Institute of Science and Technology, another deemed university. Students and the police clashed at this college campus too on March 1.
Meanwhile, the first bench of the Madras High Court on Friday advised the students to give up the violence. They have also observed that even deemed universities have to observe AICTE norms while posting further hearing in the case for April 3. The bench, also comprising the Chief Justice A.P. Shah, was hearing a batch of writ petitions and PILs filed on the issue.
The Students Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students Federation have decided to back the students. The SFI has demanded that the University Chancellor Jeppiar, a famous Chennai-based educationist, be arrested. The students’ body has also impleaded itself in the case being heard in the Madras High Court.
Dreamchaser has been avidly blogging on the issue. Click here to read his blog.