The 29-day long strike at the Kerala Law Academy in Thiruvananthapuram have successfully come to an end on Wednesday evening.
The stir would go down in history as a remarkable student protest witnessed by Kerala. Analyzing its various aspects will therefore be relevant.
It’s a fact that the Left particularly the CPM is comparatively more proficient in organizing protests. But it’s also a reality that the CPM or the governments led by the party lack the adeptness in handling the agitations. The main reason for the Law Academy strike to getprolonged and turn eventful is the ineptitude of the CPM to deal with the public protests. The approach of V S Achuthananthan’s LDF government towards the Chengara struggle and Kinaloor strikeduring his tenure should be remembered at this time. The government had then tried to suppress the protests using humiliating words like rubber and milk thieves, Maoists and terrorists.
The approach had significantly tarnished the image of the LDF government. The regressive stance of the CPM towards public agitations led by other parties is well known. It’s the same attitude that had stretched the Law Academy strike so long. One of the messages conveyed by the protest is that the CPM should acknowledge the existence of resisting forces other than the party and its many sub outfits and that these forces could as well raise their voices of dissent.
The Left wing holds a rigid stance towards self-financing colleges. The Law Academy in Thiruvananthapuram could be described as Kerala’s first self-financing college. The institution has been functioning by denying even the basic democratic rights of the students. The students began the protest demanding the resignation of the college principal. A strange aspect of the agitation is that the Left government made several attempts to protect the principal who faces severe allegations. It indicates that the approach of the Left towards the private colleges isn’t sincere or ethical.
The management had planned to reopen the college by coaxing the SFI, the state’s largest student organization. The government had fully supported the move. However, the unity of the students regardless of their parties foiled the attempts. The success of the Law Academy strike is the blow to the management tactics of believing that the protest could be dissolved by persuading the SFI. There are lessons to be learnt from the incident not only for the private managements but also for the SFI.
The Law Academy stir was initiated by the students of the college particularly girls, who alleged harassment at the hands of the college management. Student unions and political parties later got involved in the protest. It gives hope about the future of the public protests conveying yet another message that the agitations initiated by the victims could succeed and that the mainstream parties wouldn’t be able to neglect them.
The Law Academy protest also hits hard at the government’s usual justifications of having limitations to intervene in the self-financing colleges. The truth is that the government could place control on the private institutions if needed. However, the governments aren’t usually willing to do so. The Law Academy strike could therefore be seen as a beginning of an extensive protest to cleanse the self-financing colleges.
Another aspect is that the college has been functioning for decades on a land allotted by the governmentin the state capital. Both the Left and the Right political fronts has long been backing this scam with both the governments giving way lands to individuals and social organizations favoured by them.
Therefore the Law Academy strike should also extend into the matters concerning the land on which it stands. In a state where the landless and homeless poor are branded as terrorists by slapping the UAPA for demanding plots to build homes, the fact that the corporate moguls are given urban plots worth crores, is shocking.