THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The situation in front of Kerala Law Academy Law College (KLALC) where students have been agitating for the past four weeks demanding the removal of Principal Lakshmi Nair turned tense as one of the students, an ABVP worker, climbed a banyan tree threatening to commit suicide if the government further delayed the arrest of the controversial principal.
Sujin, one of the students of KLALC climbed a banyan tree at Peroorkada junction some 50 metres from the college gate, his face covered with a cloth, and began raising slogans by 2.30 pm.
He told the police that he would jump off if they tried to rescue him. He wanted the police to arrest Lakshmi Nair immediately under provisions of SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, as she has been accused of discriminating against students based on their caste. The agitating student reiterated the demand of the past 28 days that Lakshmi Nair resign from the post of Principal.
By 4.15 PM, Sub-collector Divya S Iyer came to the spot and held discussions with the students. She also tried to convince the student, Sujin, to step down from the tree and give up his protest. Students gathered there pressed for the demands made by the ABVP activist and also demanded that Lakshmi Nair’s passport be seized to prevent her from “escaping” to foreign countries.
The collector told the students that though she was convinced of the reasons for the students’ stir, their demands were not something she could take a call on as the issues did not come under her purview. But she assured the students of bringing the matter before the district collector and the government and said she would revert to them soon.
As her reply had nothing for the students to cheer about, Sujin remained adamant and stayed up in his perch. Policemen then climbed the tree and tried to forcefully bring him down, prompting the youth to jump down with a noose around his neck. The policemen however were quick to action and managed to rescue him.
By this time, another drama unfolded nearby with two students near the shed of the KSU workers' poured kerosene on their body and threatened to set themselves ablaze, over the same demand that Lakshmi Nair resign and that the police arrest her.
Fire services personnel gathered there immediately trained their water cannons on the students and prevented them from committing suicide by self-immolation.
Some of the students then pelted stones at the police and fire force personnel. Timely intervention by leaders helped avert a clash between police and the students.
Earlier, the students forcefully downed the shutters of a hotel and cooperative bank branch inside the premises of the Law Academy. Following this, police caned the students and taken several students into custody.
Meanwhile, the condition of BJP state secretary VV Rajesh and Congress MLA K Muraleedharan, who were on indefinite strike demanding the resignation of Lakshmi Nair, also worsened. While VV Rajesh's fast was in its seventh day, Muraleedharan had been fasting for six days.
Rajesh has been experiencing severe headache and fluctuation in blood pressure.
KPCC president VM Sudheeran, BJP state general secretary K Surendran and others visited the fasting leaders.