Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 15 July 2024 1.08 AM IST

Rs 33 lakh fine for strike staged by students?


It is natural for students to stage strikes on college campuses on issues within the campus or external issues. If the strike is held on issues that the authorities disagree with or on issues that they do not understand, it is common to issue show-cause notices to the students who are on strike. One can also understand the authorities taking more severe disciplinary measures if the strike turns violent. However, no one has been able to understand the reason behind slapping a fine of Rs 6,61,155 each on five of the students who peacefully protested against the nighttime restrictions imposed at the Kozhikode NIT campus. That is, the five students have to pay a total of Rs 33 lakhs! Additionally, if the students do not intend to pay the fines, they must provide an explanation with reason.

Students with outstanding mental and intellectual abilities attend the NIT, a centre for higher technological education. It is common for university students from various departments to get together late at night on campus to discuss and form friendships. No one had felt that there was anything wrong with such gatherings of students before. Recently, the authorities got the "realisation" that late-night sleep will affect the mental and physical health of the students. Following this, an order was issued imposing travel restrictions within the campus late at night. On March 22, a group of students from different departments protested against this during the daytime. Two and a half months after the strike, five students who took part in this protest were slapped with a fine of Rs.6,61,155 each!

The students staged the strike by locking the gates and not allowing the staff to enter the campus. The explanation of the authorities is that the protesters had prevented the employees from performing their duties for a day and after assessing the human resources loss incurred by the NIT because of the strike, it was decided to slap a fine of more than six lakh rupees on each of the protesters. How can one not describe this strange punishment as anything other than barbaric, merciless, and the extremes of authoritarianism? Meanwhile, the students are saying that the strike was not against the restrictions imposed at night, but against the dictatorship which denied the students their freedom without first consulting them. There are also rumours that more students are likely to face action very soon for taking part in the protest.

The unfair fine imposed on students in Kozhikode NIT is an example of institutions of higher education turning into dictatorship centres of authorities or detention centres for students. Institutions of higher education like NITs are not places where unreasonable restrictions should be imposed on students. Students from other states and even from foreign countries are studying there in various departments. Such atrocious actions by the authorities will only reduce the acceptance of NIT among students in the field of higher education. Colleges should evolve not as prisons but as creative centres of freedom of thought and high culture. The authorities should be ready to withdraw the fine imposed on the students as soon as possible. If the restriction is mandatory, it should be determined in a way that is understandable to the students as well.

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