With government and private colleges reopening for another academic year, the spectre of student violence looms large on and off campuses in the city. Already, several students from two government colleges have been arrested over the last few weeks for clashes with ‘rivals,’ causing damage to Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses and threatening the bus crews.
Strange as it may seem, the root cause of the problem appears to lie in the fact that the student elections of government colleges are organised on MTC bus route lines. There are some 15 routes and student union elections in government colleges are held on the basis of route affiliations, principals point out. Groups trounced in the polls are constantly on the look for an opportunity to vent their ire on opponents. Needless to say, the heavy posse of security personnel deployed at the gates of once-reputed institutions is an eye sore.
And come ‘Bus Day’ in February, the law and order situation takes another severe beating, as students ‘hijack’ MTC buses and take out processions. Besides members of the public, police personnel and their vehicles also find themselves at the receiving end. No wonder then that the men in khaki are seeking to gain an upper hand at the beginning of the academic year itself with a slew of proactive measures to curb student violence in the campus and on the streets.
The focus is on two notorious spots – Presidency College on Kamarajar Salai, Triplicane, and Pachaiyappa’s College, Kilpauk. It is not as if the student community is blind to the problem. Growing concern over the frequent outbreak of violence in their campus and the steady barrage of negative publicity had jolted the Presidency College students’ union into conducting a brainstorming session last year. But the resolutions appear to have fizzled out.
Hence, Joint Commissioner of Police, East Zone, K Shankar – under whose jurisdiction both institutions fall – and his officers are busy listing out and scheduling programmes through which they can make a positive intervention in the two colleges.
Ask the senior police official about his take on the students’ issue, and he blames it on one factor: Adolescent ego. “There are different groups and their egos are high,” the JCP pointed out. “The typical adolescent syndrome gets manifested especially when the students are in a crowd,” he said.
Result: Even small issues get blown out of proportion and they get into altercations with other groups and MTC bus conductors and drivers, he rued. While not mincing words about the strict action that will be initiated against students indulging in deliberate damage of public property and peace, Shankar said that the cops, on the other hand, will make every effort to interact with them. “Beginning next week, we are holding programmes in Pachaiyappa’s College,” he said.
Topping the list is a blood donation camp and awareness programmes that will be held with the assistance of the NCC and NSS units in the college. “We want to make them aware of how their names in police records could mar their professional careers in the future,” the JCP said.
Echoing him, R Thirugnanam, JCP—South, said that his men were in constant touch with the authorities in Government Arts College in Nandanam, another major trouble spot in the city. “We are also planning to hold participatory programmes such as sports and medical camps in the college,” he said.