EXACTLY A week after Jishnu Pranoy, a student from Nehru College of Engineering in Thrissur district of Kerala, committed suicide, allegedly following harassment by college authorities, students from more engineering and technical colleges in the state are coming forward. Their complaints range from harassment and exploitation to fleecing in the name of “penalty”.
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As the hashtag #JusticeForJishnu kept trending on social media sites for the seventh consecutive day, a delegation from the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) recorded statements from students of Toms College of Engineering, Kottayam, on Friday after girl students alleged that college chairman Tom Joseph misbehaved with them on multiple occasions. A few students had complained to Kerala Education Minister C Raveendranath that Joseph would often allegedly go to the girls’ hostel and shout abuses at the inmates.
They also alleged that girl students were forced to work as receptionist at the college before office hours began, and that they had to clean the chairman’s chamber and fetch his food, among others.
On Friday, hundreds of students belonging to the Congress-affiliated KSU, and ABVP, the RSS’s student wing, marched to Toms College, claiming that the institution had tried to prevent the girls from deposing before the authorities. The girl students were allegedly locked up in classrooms, but were released by the protesting students.
Elsewhere, students took out protest marches to Vimal Jyoti Engineering College, Kannur, and Sri Vellappally Nateshan College of Engineering, Alappuzha. Both colleges are facing allegations of exploiting students. Spokespersons for these institutions were not available for a comment.
Kerala Self-Financing Engineering Colleges Association’s secretary K G Madhu said strict regulations were introduced at these colleges with a “good intention”. “We know there are problems at certain institutions (and) we are planning to issue general guideline,” Madhu said. “It is illegal to collect unnecessary penalties. At the same time, let the government look into the complaints.”
A senior entrepreneur in the higher education sector said on conditions of anonymity that most self-financing institutions are run by business people with little commitment to education.More Kerala colleges face allegations