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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Being Baptised in Political Delinquency and Insensitivity

Schools and colleges have lost their lessons of empathy and the value system that we cherished once got deeply dispelled. The state of Kerala has lost its sheen of being one of the most empathetic societies. Often being applauded for its socio-political awareness and excellent performance in various socio-economic indices, Kerala has maintained its status of being a good example for the rest of the country. But its terrible failure and inability to understand the need of maintaining values that would nurture its existence as a society is a reality. Irrespective of it being a society with good living standards, the state has grown into an insensitive terrain for moral values. With bigoted cries for free speech and scientific thinking being heard louder; the campuses in the state have lost the essence of a learning atmosphere well knit with compassion, tolerance and mutual acceptance.

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By:  M.R.Lalu

When political rivalries convert college campuses into hotspots of crime and criminal behavior, education takes a back seat. There has always been an epidemic of crime spreading exponentially in college campuses across the state of Kerala and I personally could witness many. It was on 17 September 1996, the state witnessed one of the most heart-wrenching campus brutalities carried out by a mainstream political party. In an attempt to silence political rivalry, three young boys from the BJP’s students wing ABVP were brutally chased and killed by students from the same college and goons from outside the campus that belonged to the left parties. This heinous incident of abrupt brutality had taken place in the Devaswom Board College in Parumala. When being chased and tortured by a violent mob from the Students Federation of India (SFI), the students’ wing of the CPI (M), the three jumped into River Pampa. The idea was to swim across the river and escape. But the barbarous goons began to pelt stones from the riverbed critically injuring the boys in water and they had drowned. The local women who were busy washing clothes tried to rope out the hapless boys with their clothes. But they were chased away by the wanton brutes and all the three died in the river.

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Campus politics has always been a parallel track played in tune with the dictums of parties that ruled the state. Most of the students gain merit for representing the ruling party and they are given a free hand by the police when chaotic skirmishes take place. There have been plenty of instances in which lives have been lost and many students have become victims of political insanity. The Kannur district of the state deserves a special reference here as it remained the most acrimonious landscape for the state politics where rivalries between the BJP and CPI (M) destroyed a number of families. Both parties have had consistent efforts to steer their presence in this district which is in the Malabar region. Situation became turbulent when the traditional stronghold of the CPI (M) had shatteringly faced a systematic ideological invasion from the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. This had absolutely been leading the entire region to break into a huge political turmoil that gained notoriety for decades. Hundreds of party workers got butchered by the violence unleashed by the parties. Many people died and many families perished.

This narration was necessary here to elaborate the quantum of political acrimony prevailed among parties in the state. But the present scenario turned this traditional enmity and acrimony more inhuman. Campuses are no more centers of learning. Across the state they have now been turning into breeding grounds of goons. With the uninterrupted supply of drugs and being baptized in ruthless political indoctrination, a huge number of students have gone directionless. Kerala’s universities have long been witness to violence and spine chilling horror of student politics. With the latest brutality of political indoctrination, the foot soldiers of Students Federation of India (SFI) have managed to kill J S Sidharthan, a 20 year old second-year student of veterinary college, Pookot, Wayanad, under the Kerala University. The punishment executed on the young boy by the brutal gang was beyond comparison and narration. It is reported that he was stripped naked and beaten up with belts and cable wires by his classmates and seniors in front of other students. His close friends were threatened and forced to beat him up when the show of cruelty was performed in broad daylight. The probe found the involvement of almost 31 students. This heartbreaking trial-cum-torture continued for almost three days leading the boy to commit suicide. His body was later found hanging lifeless in the hostel.

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has suspended the Vice-Chancellor of the university ordering a judicial enquiry. Now, there is a crucial question that began to distressingly prickle the conscience of the people of the state. That why was the entire population of students and staff in the hostel silent on the inhuman torture of the boy? Why was the management of the college tight-lipped on violence inside its premises? This insensitivity indicates the depth of fear on this horribly rampant criminality that has been controlling the campus; it also finger-points at the failure of the education system.  Evidently, the ruling class has been applying its political power to cripple the system with its notorious interference and the administration in universities and colleges have silently been forced to remain servile to their political masters. There has been a huge wave of violence infiltrating into the campuses with political groups and radicalized religious groups getting consistently active among students.

Should this incident be seen as a usual occurrence of ragging breaking all extremes of brutality or was there a terrible mindset emanating from the vacuum of organizations that the Government of India has recently banned? Could they successfully stretch their ugly claws into colleges and universities by systematically intruding into political parties?  What was the real intent of the crime that the goons perpetuated on a hapless boy? Was this criminal justice system executed by the students motivated by the brutal depiction of cruelty being carried out by the Taliban or other outfits working in countries where the atmosphere is warm and fertile for barbarity? Violent means of murders in the state, especially among the youth, should have shaken the society long before, but there seems a lack of urgency and lethargy again and again dominating its value system. Trimming the aspirations of a state that once remained an excellent hub for quality education, its political system has certainly pushed it through the tunnel of hatred and inhuman retribution.

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Schools and colleges have lost their lessons of empathy and the value system that we cherished once got deeply dispelled. The state of Kerala has lost its sheen of being one of the most empathetic societies. Often being applauded for its socio-political awareness and excellent performance in various socio-economic indices, Kerala has maintained its status of being a good example for the rest of the country. But its terrible failure and inability to understand the need of maintaining values that would nurture its existence as a society is a reality. Irrespective of it being a society with good living standards, the state has grown into an insensitive terrain for moral values. With bigoted cries for free speech and scientific thinking being heard louder; the campuses in the state have lost the essence of a learning atmosphere well knit with compassion, tolerance and mutual acceptance.

Overwhelmingly misguided by different political ideologies, religious radicalization and social media, young minds in the state have lost their purpose. Political parties being purposefully partial and supportive of regimentation in the society have further deepened the malaise. Mostly, the crisis was the artificial creation of the ruling class that kept dismantling the minds of young generations by viciously squandering their imaginations of progress. The crisis is deep as the malice is emerging thicker threatening the existence of the state. At this juncture, how sincere and action oriented is the government? Let us grieve for Sidharthan, with this question reverberating in our minds repeatedly. The author is a freelance journalist who can be reached at mrlalu30@gmail.com

 

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