On Saturday we witnessed unsavoury incidents in St Xavier’s College in Mapusa led by a group of three students, who with the help of elements from outside the college organised a ‘protest’ within the campus and disrupted classes going from class to class urging other students to join their ‘protest’ to pressurise the college administration to accede to their “demands” of constituting the students council of the college.
It is yet unclear what triggered the protest with several reports claiming that the students were denied an audience with the principal that they sought, while on the other hand they say that they were denied an audience because they turned abusive.
Irrespective of the claims and counterclaims, the events that followed calls into question the role played by the respective authorities in handling the situation.
While the police did arrive on the scene and managed to round up the students, they were slow in acting against the sloganeering and disruption that was caused, forcing the college authorities to call off classes for the rest of the day and send students home for their “own safety and security”.
The protesting students, numbering not more than a dozen, were allowed to continue to sloganeer thus vitiating the atmosphere of the otherwise placid campus and that has seen thousands of students pass through the institute and go on to become eminent personalities and hold prominent posts in the state, in the country and beyond.
Instead the management was held to ransom over what clearly is a very petty issue even by the standards of student politics nowadays.
Contrast this with how the police behaved with the students who were protesting against the three linear projects -- who were picked up from the steps of the Panjim church where they were to hold a peaceful protest back in December 2020 on the occasion of Goa Liberation Day -- and taken first to the Pernem police station, then driven to another police station and finally to Agassaim where they were released well into the night -- all because the state administration wanted to keep the protest away from the president who was visiting the state that day.
All this when the cause they were protesting for was entirely genuine and in the interest of the State -- a cause that even the Central Empowered Committee and the Supreme Court of India no less have agreed with, when the scrapped the railway expansion through the Mollem forest reserve.
In contrast, despite trespassing into the college campus, intimidating students and teachers and creating a ruckus over what can hardly be described as an issue of any importance or relevance the police showed extreme reluctance to act against the students and quite literally treated them with kid’s gloves.
Disruptions of these kinds should not be treated lightly no matter who is behind them simply because, if not nipped in the bud, have the potential to spread and disrupt the peaceful atmosphere that Goa’s educational institutions currently enjoy.
At the age they are, it is not improbable for students to be of the entirely mistaken opinion that that concerns are the beginning and the end of problems of this world. It is imperative that senior leaders across all party lines come together and drill some sense into these misguided souls lest they grow up to be a nuisance to society.