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Kerala Law Academy strike ends, Principal Lekshmi Nair to resign

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 8 (IANS) The 29-day-old student protests at the Kerala Law Academy ended on Wednesday with the management acceding to the demand that Principal Lekshmi Nair be removed and a new principal be appointed.

Talks were held on Wednesday under State Education Minister C. Raveendranath with the Academy management and the student leaders of the protesting organisation. The management had given a written assurance, signed by the Minister, that Lekshmi Nair would be removed and a new qualified principal would be appointed.

"The talks have been successful. The students agreed to the written assurance given by the management that a new principal having all the prescribed qualifications would be appointed," said Raveendranath.

Things turned for the worse on Tuesday night when a 63-year-old onlooker died in the chaos that broke out at the protest venue. A huge crowd had gathered on the main road leading to the academy after a student climbed a tree and threatened to commit suicide if his demands were not met immediately.

The student demanded that academy Principal Lekshmi Nair — whom the protesting students accuse of ill-treatment, and who has been charged under the SC/ST Atrocities Act — should be arrested and her passport impounded. He also sought that the academy students’ demands should be taken up at the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Thiruvananthapuram Sub Collector Divya Iyer assured the student that his demands would be taken up with the higher-ups.

As the student agreed to come down from the tree, chaos broke out and stones were pelted. In the melee, 63-year-old onlooker, Abdul Jabbar, collapsed and died.

Following this the ruling Left Front’s second biggest ally – Communist Party of India (CPI) — also strongly supported the student protest. On Tuesday night, senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and CPI leaders discussed the issue.

On Wednesday morning, the student leaders called on CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran, paving the way for the protest to end.

The biggest setback came for the CPI-M-backed SFI, which had withdrawn from the strike last week stating that all demands was accepted. However, other student organisations said the SFI was coerced by the CPI-M to withdraw from the strike.

"Even the SFI has signed the agreement that was prepared today," said other student representatives.

The director of the Academy, Narayanan Nair, father of Lekshmi Nair said they have advertised for a new principal and the interview will take place on the February 18.

"She has resigned as principal but she will continue to be in the service," said Narayanan Nair.

Local legislator K. Muraleedharan, whose indefinite fast entered the seventh day on Wednesday, termed it a victory for the students and said he is ending his fast.

State Congress president V.M. Sudheeran said also termed it a victory for the student community as their demands have been met.

"Even though the protest has ended, the other demands with regards to the ownership of the land will continue to be taken up and we will wait for the report that is being prepared," said Sudheeran.

State BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran said their leader V.V. Rajesh, who was also on an indefinite fast, has also called off his fast.

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