The death of a student inside the campus of College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram (CET) on August 19 during Onam celebrations after she was run over by a jeep driven by another senior student of the same college had stirred a ruckus in the state.
Thasni Basheer, 21, a third year civil engineering student of CET hailing from Malappuram was moved down by a jeep that carried around 15 students in an inebriated state celebrating Onam inside the campus, sending her to a coma and eventually leading to her death the next day. The vehicle procession that entered the campus despite the ban against the entry of students’ vehicles included two roofless jeeps that were specially designed, a truck named Chekuthan (Devil) and over a dozen motor cycles. The students found involved were suspended and a murder attempt case was registered against them by the police. Even before the controversy died down over the revelry on the CET campus, the students of IHRD, Adoor crossed the limits by using a Fire Force vehicle for Onam celebrations, splashing water from the tanker and dancing on the road. The incidents courted controversy over the campus celebrations crossing limits in institutions meant for higher education. In the wake of the events, the state government decided to impose restrictions on students’ vehicles inside the campus issuing a circular on October 12. The Kerala High Court, on October 20 upheld the government decision. The Court was considering the plea filed by the students who were suspended from CET following the tragic incident. It refused to annul the suspension order of the students asking them to present their grievances before the University Board.
Observing that discipline was the cornerstone of education, the High Court Single Bench Judge V Chidambaresh said that the celebrations on the campuses shouldn’t cross limits and banned the students’ vehicles inside the campus. He said that anyone bringing their vehicles despite the strict ban would be fined by the college authorities and the vehicle seized saying that campuses were not a place for students to show off. The students with physical disabilities can take their vehicles inside after receiving the sanction from the principal. Processions would not be allowed on college and hostel campuses for any kind of celebration and the teachers would be mandated to be present during all such events. The court ordered the programs to wind up by 9 pm to prevent students from roaming around without supervision. It also directed the parent teacher association to hire security guards to ensure the rule. Outside agencies including professional troupes and DJs would also not be allowed for such programs inside the campus. The high court asked the government to ensure that the circular regulating festivities on campuses do not remain on paper and ordered copies of the order to be sent to the University Registrars. The CET incident had caused a stir in the society with strong criticisms raised against the mainstream political student outfits including SFI that has dominance over majority of the colleges in the state.
The lawless goons raised by the student outfits were alleged to be behind such activities. Even though the move from the part of the government is laudable, rampantly generalizing all campuses to be unsafe and that the student community has been off the right track is incorrect. The authorities therefore, have decided to impose strict measures to ‘rectify’ the students gone astray and this temperament is reflected in the High Court order as well. Students in teen age exhibit natural swiftness and show off with the new generation having many mannerisms unknown and unacceptable to the older generation. Unaware of these things, trying to gain control over them through severe measures would only make the situation worse. This doesn’t mean that the students should be given permission to do anything beyond control. They should be nurtured into citizens with responsible behavour and it would be possible only through the collective effort of the teachers, parents, student outfits and cultural organizations. Imposing severe disciplinary actions is wrong and dangerous as giving limitless freedom. Following the medium path by both the older as well as the new generation is what is required.