On 11 July this year, some half-a-dozen Students Federation of India (SFI) members stabbed a fellow student, Akil Chandran, inside the Kerala University campus in Thiruvananthapuram. This was deemed to be a result of intra-SFI rivalry.
Two months before the incident, a group of former faculty members of the college --- who formed the ‘Save University College Campaign’ --- set up a commission under former Kerala High Court judge, P K Shamsuddin.
The Commission was asked to look into the unfavourable academic environment and political activism on the campus. The Shamsuddin Commission submitted its report this week to the Kerala government and High Court. Its findings are shocking.
The panel has reported that student organisations in colleges across Kerala are perpetuating violence. More disturbing is the finding that rooms allocated by colleges for activities of student unions have been turned into ‘assault rooms’.
Most of the complaints the commission received were against SFI, which had allegedly indulged in ‘inhuman’ attacks on fellow students. Many of those attacked were first-year students.
Besides the University College, assault rooms existed in Thiruvananthapuram’s Mahatma Gandhi College, Ernakulam’s Maharaja’s College, and Madapally’s Government College in Kozhikode.
No other student organisation could function in colleges where the SFI had an upper hand. Elections in these colleges were not held freely and the SFI got support from some teachers organisations too.
During its investigation, the commission found that teachers, who belonged to a certain organisation, were passive or helped the attackers. These teachers also helped the student organisation leaders during exams by leaking question papers or illegally providing answer sheets in advance.
The Shamsuddin Commission also found fault with spot admissions, sports quota and inter-college transfer systems. Colleges often admitted students who were unsuitable, the report said.
Justice Shamsuddin has blamed faulty political leadership for the mess created in the colleges. It leaves no one in doubt that the commission is pointing fingers at the ruling Communist Party of India(Marxist) (CPI(M)). The SFI is the student wing of CPI(M).
The SFI rivalry has also reflected badly on the Kerala Pubic Service Commission (PSC) since two of the accused in the attack had secured ranks in PSC’s civil police officers exam. Their rankings came under scrutiny after it was discovered that both their academic records were poor.
New developments reveal that another SFI leader, who was ranked second in the police officers exam, had also resorted to malpractice.
A policeman, arrested in connection with the PSC exam scam, has told the investigators that all the three were provided answers for the exam’s question paper through mobile phones. Full details are unavailable yet.
The Kerala High Court has asked the state government to conduct a comprehensive probe into the alleged exam fraud. Consequently, the Kerala Crime Branch Police has decided to look into the results of various exams that PSC had conducted in the last three years.
Meanwhile, PSC Chairman, M K Sakeer, in an interview to the media has said the commission alone cannot be blamed for the exam fraud.
The SFI rivalry has already weakened the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala. As more details are made available on SFI activities and the way PSC exams have been held, it looks like the Kerala ruling party is in for more trouble.
M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani
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