While the arrest of an assistant professor for allegedly trying to lure girl students into prostitution rocked Tamil Nadu, yet another controversy has erupted in Dr. Ambedkar Law University, an affiliated government law college in Coimbatore, after it suspended Priya, a third-year student, for criticising patriarchy when she was debating on Kathua rape case in the college.
The Law University is already mired in a controversy after governor Banwarilal Purohit appointed a new vice-chancellor, Suryanarayana Sastry, who is an Hindutva nominee, according to Opposition parties in the state. Some of the leaders of ruling AIADMK also expressed displ-easure over the appointment.
Suspension of the law student once again shocked the state at a time when the brutal rape and murder of an 8-year-old child from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir has sparked outrage demanding justice for the victim.
The student alleged that she has been suspended for speaking out against the brutal crime and questioning patriarchy. But the college said that she has been suspended for criticising patriarchy.
The sources said that Priya, a third-year student at the Government Law College, Coimbatore has been actively involved in student politics and demonstrations against the government, which led to her suspension.
Priya, who was invited to take part in a debate on any issue of her choice, said that while taking on the subject of patriarchy and male domination in society she spoke about the rape of the girl in Kashmir because it is a big issue.
“I said that an 8-year-old child was raped for many days inside a temple premise. The reason for this is not men or the clothes that women wear. The basis for all this is the society’s patriarchal thought in which woman considered as an object of male desire. It doesn’t show them as a fellow human life. We should speak up against such representations. As students of law, this is fundamental to us.” Priya alleged that this landed her in trouble when a few male students objected to it an complained about it.
But the college authorities told the media that Priya has been suspended not for criticising Kathua incident but for speaking in a manner that incites clashes among students on the basis of sex and religion and prevented the teacher from doing her job when she tried to stop such incitement of violence, and acted in a threatening manner.
The suspension letter issued to her says that, “In the complaint, the students state that Priya’s activities prevent classes from taking place and that Priya forces the students to cut class to protest against the government and posts in harsh words on WhatsApp about students who refuse to listen to her.”
But Priya alleges that since Suryanarayana Sastry took over as Vice-Chancellor of the Ambedkar University, there has been a crackdown on students who are politically active.
“This is not the first time something like this is happening. We asked for permission to celebrate Ambedkar Jayanthi but we were refused.” alleged Priya, who is a member of the Left-leaning Revolutionary Student Front.
College principal Gopalakrishnan told the media that, “The student is continuously working against the government and the college management and inciting students to protest against the government. She has the right to participate in social work. But we cannot accept such work inside the college campus. For the past few years, Coimbatore Government Law College has been functioning well. At such a time, that student is looking to tarnish the name of the college management.”
He further elaborated that the college never suspends a student for any personal reasons and Priya has been suspended after a complaint received from the faculty.