Politics in soot-smearing acts?

KATHMANDU: Instance 1: Activists of Madhesi Students Front (Democratic) smeared soot on the faces of Harihar Bhandari and Tulraj Bhattarai, campus chief and assistant campus chief of Biratnagar Degree Campus respectively, on August 6.

Instance 2: Cadres of All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU) attacked Hari Prasad Parajuli, principal, Tri-Chandra Campus in Kathmandu on August 2.

Instance 3: All Nepal National Independent Students Union-Revolutionary blackened the face of Jasa Bahadur Lungeli, chief, Mahendra Multiple Campus, Ilam, on July 1.

Instance 4: Representatives of the Free Students Union badly beat up campus chief Devidatta Shah and other lecturers of Mahendra Bindeswori Multiple Campus in Rajbiraj of Saptari on June 8.

Instance 5: The Maoist students smeared tar on the faces of Tribhuvan University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Madhav Prasad Sharma, and Rector Prof Dr Surya Lal Amatya, on April 22.

Such news of assaults and misbehavious with the teachers are commonplace in the media lately. But, what are the reasons the students have been turning on their own gurus, who, according to the Hindu tradition, are revered that like of gods?

Prof Dr Mana Prasad Wagle says such acts are utterly shocking. "Such indiscipline is rife in the educational institutions mainly due to encouragement by the political parties the assailants are associated with," said Wagle. "At the same time, the students are indulged in such negative and violent act as a result of dissatisfaction and frustration."

It is also because of the political parties' failure to tame and guide their affiliated students on discipline and responsibility, says Wagle. "Unnecessary politicking of students and education sector, which has massively deteriorated the education standard of Tribhuvan University, is also another cause of such anarchy."

"Student unions put unnecessary pressures on the campus administration for enrolling students, just to garner votes in the union election. To say frankly, such unions in the universities, which are hardly concerned about the betterment of education, are not needed at all" Wagle argues.

VC Dr Sharma, one of the victims, says that the university and schools were not the right place for one to do politics. "We're sad to say that such incidents are recurring largely due to the prevalent impunity."

Pradip Paudel, president, Nepal Students Union agrees that humiliating and disrespecting the teachers are not acceptable. "We opt for other means to solve problems."

Paudel, however, attributes the culture of violence in academia to the Maoists and its student body. "But, university teachers, who often seek political back up, are also to be blamed."

Himal Sharma, general secretary, ANNISU-R, says: "Students are ultimately compelled to do so after all other available means fail to yield outcome." He, however, maintains that the students should be availed of the rights to do politics.

Sheltering those involved in such crimes by mother parties and letting them scot free are the reasons behind such incidents, according to Gagan Thapa, CA member, who is also the former general secretary of NSU. "Besides, the education sector should also change itself in order to accommodate to the aspirations of the changing times."