'Murder' at veterinary college | Time for society to wake up from slumber: KK Rema

Sidharth. Photo: Special Arrangement

The death of JS Sidharth, a student of the College of Veterinary and Animal Science at Pookkode in Wayanad, is both shocking and frightening. The student seems to be the latest on the list of victims of criminalisation of campuses. It is rather terrifying to note that our campuses — where imagination and creativity are expected to flourish — degenerating to exhibit criminal character. It won't be an exaggeration to say that most campuses in our state are under criminal raj.

I don't prefer to term the Pookkode incident mob justice. It was a trial by the SFI. The SFI implemented on campus what we have seen in movies: A gang assaulting a student for four days, parading him naked, keeping him under constant surveillance, locking him up in his room, and more.

I grew up in politics through the SFI. We had a history of trying to eradicate ragging. Our strength was rooted in camaraderie. The campus has changed — degenerated — from what it was during my student days. Party leaders themselves are fostering such criminal minds.

The SFI now targets anyone, even if he or she is part of the alliance, speaking against the organisation. Take the case of PM Arsho, SFI's state secretary. He took a brutal stand against Nimisha, an AISF leader at MG University. He is also booked in several criminal cases.

Still, he is acting with impunity. Did the organisation initiate any action against him? He is active both in the organisation and politics. The political leadership's attitude was encouraging him. The leadership, which should be a model to the younger generation, is encouraging such criminal activities.

It would be surprising that the young minds, looking up at these leaders with awe, do not turn into criminals.  

It is rather sad that other students at Pookkode were too scared to denounce the brutality. Our strength once was a generation that raised its voice against injustice and wrongdoings. But at Pookkode, they were scared or threatened into silence. There would have been a few who wanted to oppose the cruelty. Perhaps they would have later opened up to Sidharth's parents.

The Pookkode incident also highlights the lack of Opposition on campuses. Such brutal incidents occur when political probity is kept out of campuses. Such campuses are strange to healthy dialogues or creative thoughts. Instead, leaked question papers, machetes, and daggers rule the campuses. The senior political leadership is encouraging this trend. The society should react to this danger.

The police took days to arrest some of those responsible for Sidharth's death. I don't think they are the real culprits. They are scapegoats thrown in to save the leaders. All efforts are being made to portray Sidharth's death as a suicide. I firmly believe that he was murdered.

I believe that the leaders lead children to criminal activities. Those with a clear conscience will be surprised to hear the followers of such leaders calling them 'the lionheart' or 'the originator'.

However, the apathy of the police and college authorities should be noted. The men in khaki uniforms are intimidated by the political leadership. I have experienced it first-hand.

If the then UDF leadership had not adopted a strong stand in the TP Chandrasekharan murder case and gave a free hand to the police, the culprits would not have been arrested.

The political intervention has been preventing the police from arresting the prime suspects (The prime suspect, Akhil, was picked up on Thursday, hours before the college union president and SFI unit secretary surrendered before the police. Nine others are still at large) in the Pookkode case, even after all these days. Society should be worried about the leadership that put the police on a leash.

It is rather painful to know that the college authorities, including senior officials, were aware of the torture that Sidharth had undergone. Ragging in colleges has been banned by law, and the campuses have anti-ragging committees. However, those on the committee were behind the Pookkode incident.

Though college authorities, including teachers, were aware of it. They all preferred to keep mum, and it exacerbates the seriousness of the problem. What message is these teachers passing on to the next generation? Those who kept quiet are not entitled to continue as teachers. They should be terminated immediately. 

(The author is a Member of Legislative Assembly from Vadakara Constituency and the wife of late T P Chandrasekharan, the founder of Revolutionary Marxist Party.)

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