Salesian official blames campus politics for college vandalism

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Sultan Bathery: A top Salesian official in Asia says one of their colleges was attacked in Kerala, southern India, because of its resistance to campus politics.

The college management’s efforts to resist political interference within college administration have been behind the violence and it was reiterated by the entire parent body,” Father George Thadathil, Asia coordinator of the Salesian Institutions of Higher Education, told Matters India on July 12.

Father Thadathil made this observation after visiting Don Bosco College at Sultan Bathery in northern Kerala that was attacked two days earlier. The college suffered heavy losses as the attackers destroyed furniture, equipment and other items.

The college had earlier suspended a student who is an official of the Student Federation of India (SFI) for allegedly trying to recruit members from the campus. The federation is the student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that heads the Left Democratic Front that now rules Kerala.

During his day-long visit, the Salesian official met with the principal of the vandalized college Father Joy Ullattil, the Salesian provincial of Bangalore Father Joyce Thonikuzhiyil and Abraham Thadathil, former Parent Teacher Association president.

Father Thadathil is also the principal of Salesian College Sonada and Siliguri Campus in West Bengal state in eastern India.

Meanwhile, Police on July 12 arrested 13 activists of SFI and DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India), the Marxist youth wing, for vandalizing the college. Earlier, the college administration had alleged police inaction during the rampage.

Police have charged them under various sections under the Indian Penal Code including 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) based on the complaint by the college principal.

The attack took place after the march taken by SFI in to protest the suspension of Jishnu Venugopal, a second year B.Com student.

“It was the police who informed us beforehand that the college buildings would be attacked during the protests and asked us to declare a holiday for the college. But they didn’t do anything to prevent the pre-planned attack. They just looked on as the attackers went on a rampage,” Father Ullattil alleged.

He said that the activists did not spare even the statue of Don Bosco inside the college chapel and at the residential campus.

“All the window panes numbering around 370 in the multi-storied college building were smashed,” he said.

I C Balakrishnan, who represents Sulthan Bathery in the Kerala legislative assembly, said that police had succumbed to political pressure.

Source: Matters India