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One of Kerala’s oldest legal education institutes, the Kerala Law Academy (KLA) Law College, is in the eye of a storm. For the last five days, students have been protesting the state of affairs at the institution, demanding the resignation of Principal Dr. Lekshmi Nair.
The events were set in motion by the recent suicide of a student from a nearby engineering college, allegedly due to harassment from the management. This incident has encouraged the students of the Kerala Law Academy’s law college to speak out against the injustices they claim to face at the hands of the administration.
Among a slew of allegations against the authorities, and Dr. Nair in particular, is the arbitrary awarding of internal marks to students. The Principal, however, denies these charges. She says,
“The allegations are completely false. The protests are being carried out by students who are not serious about studies.
In any college, if the students have a problem, the first step is to approach the administration. But they have not done that. They starting protesting themselves without even telling the college about their grievances.”
Another grievance is the supposedly “inappropriate” positioning of CCTV cameras near the girls hostel bathrooms, an allegation that Dr. Nair vehemently denies. She says that the cameras are positioned in public areas like the canteen, the dining hall and at the entrance of the girls hostel.
Student unions, on their part, allege that they were denied permission to conduct a protest against the death of the engineering student, which has been termed as an “institutional death” by student unions across the state. One of the recent protests turned violent, with one union clashing with the police.
They have also accused the Principal of “devoting more time to television programmes” than to college affairs. Dr. Nair is a well-known television anchor and culinary expert.
Even as students demand her resignation, Dr. Nair is not willing to back down. She says,
“They are demanding my resignation, but how can that happen? How many times have students asked the Principal to resign? If I do, I will be setting a bad trend.”
She also claims that she has been the subject of threats and nasty comments on social media websites like Facebook.