A student of the Government art college in Coimbatore was suspended indefinitely for organising a program to mark the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh in the college campus on September 28.
The suspension order, dated October 1, stated that S Malathi, a first-year MA (History) student, was denied permission by the principal to conduct the meeting. “The meeting was conducted by the student in a manner that could cause disturbance to the peaceful nature of the campus and was not in line with discipline expected by the college,” read the order.
Malathi, in her defence, said that she had asked the principal for permission. Chitra Mohan, the principal of the college, denied permission and instead told her to seek permission from her Head of the Department (History) and conduct a department-level function. Since the head of the department was on leave, Malathi approached the tutor in her department, who also denied permission. Nevertheless, she went ahead and conducted the meeting as planned originally.
Malathi furthered that her suspension was was against democracy on the college campus. “It was not a huge celebration. Only a few had gathered and we spoke about Bhagat Singh’s achievements and his exemplary work during the freedom struggle. We dispersed in 45 minutes,” she said, wondering whether celebrating Bhagat Singh’s birthday could be considered a crime.
She alleged that the college authorities are now trying to politicise the issue and are clamping down on students who dare to speak up against the management. “The authorities are miffed that we spoke about the lack of facilities in the college. We don’t have proper toilets and the ones that we have are not maintained at all. It is true that they didn’t give us permission but we did not do anything wrong,” she said.
The principal, however refuting the claim said that the college was not against commemorating the birth anniversary of the freedom fighter, but what forced the college authorities to take such an action was that the students organised a meeting without prior permission.
Malathi has been suspended pending an enquiry by a four-member committee led by the Head of the History department on October 22. A copy of the suspension order was sent to the history department, disciplinary committee, the Race Course police station and to Malathi’s parents.