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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Law college violence: Politics, casteism to blame


The atavistic violence that broke out inside the Dr Ambedkar law College last evening may have brought brickbats to the police who watched all the savagery in embarrassing silence.

But sources in the know point out that the police were wary of embroiling themselves in the politics of law students, who have unfortunately gained notoriety for being, er, a law unto themselves.

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The police had been roundly criticised for entering the law college hostel premises a few years back and using lathicharge to quell a clash among the students. After that high-profile incident, the police began to err on the side of caution when dealing with issues pertaining to law college students.

Said a senior police official, ‘dealing with lawyers and law students is becoming a ticklish issue for us’. The reasons for the ticklishness, according to him, is rampant politicisation and caste factors.

Lawyers and aspiring lawyers in Tamilnadu today are invariably affiliated to some political group. ‘The politicians go out of the way to cultivate them. The entire set up has rotted with murky politics,’ he adds.

The scenario among law students is worse. They are hand-picked by political parties and given backing. The law college campus is the most politicised and caste-ridden among all educational institutions, says the police.

Almost vindicating this, all the political parties made a beeline to the hospital where the injured are being treated.

‘Caste factors run high in the campus,’ confirms a senior lawyer, who also teaches at the college. ‘Students are riven among themselves on caste lines,’ he adds.

Points out social scientist V R Sivasailam this was always on cards. ‘When students are selected on the basis of their caste such extreme manifestation of the same was always going to happen’.

Another expert, refers to the inverted vehemence from Dalit students. ‘When they are in a group, Dalit students know that they are on a politically strong wicket. None dare touch them in Tamilnadu. And when they also happen to be law students the chances for mischief are high’.

What happened at the law college yesterday was poltics and casteism that have been plaguing Tamilnadu for long. Police are to blame for their inaction. But, in a different sense, they would have been pilloried had they intervened.

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