Kochi | Six students of a government college here have been suspended for allegedly behaving in an inappropriate manner with a visually impaired professor and circulating a video of the same on social media.
The Maharaja's College, in a statement, said that the action was taken by the college council based on the complaints made by the professor - Priyesh C U - and the Political Science Department of which he is a member.
The council also appointed a three-member commission to look into the complaints and submit a report within seven days, the statement said.
It also said that the council in its meeting also decided to lodge a complaint with the police demanding registering a case under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act.
"Further action will be taken as soon as the inquiry report is received. Strict measures will be taken to prevent repetition of such acts from the students," the college said.
Meanwhile, the professor told a TV channel that he was very hurt by the "unfortunate incident".
"I did not expect it. Being visually impaired I did not realise they were shooting a video or that they posted it on social media platform Instagram," he said.
He said that thousands had seen the video and there were many derogatory and negative comments against him and his situation by those who saw it.
"That was hurting. Only those who suffer a disability would understand the problems associated with it and the obstacles we have to face to get anything.
"I sit in front of a computer for two hours and make notes for taking the one-hour long class. So, in that scenario, such an incident hurts and saddens me," the professor said.
He said that some of the students involved in the incident later told him they regretted what had happened.
"I ofcourse forgive them. At the same time they need to realise the wrong committed by them. It was not just wrong towards me personally, but also against the visually impaired community.
"That needs to be rectified. Another visually impaired teacher or professor should not undergo the same experience. Measures should be taken to ensure such an incident is not repeated," he said.
At the same time, the professor also said that the students should be brought back to the college considering their future and the matter should be dealt with internally in the institution.
One of the students involved in the incident said that he did not do anything to disrespect or mock the professor and that he was 100 per cent
The student, giving details of what happened, said that he had come late to class and sought permission to enter which was given by professor Priyesh.
"However, as I entered the room, the professor ended the class and got up to leave. At the same time, some students started laughing. I thought they were laughing at my situation and to hide my embarrassment, I smiled too.
"I had no idea that a video was being recorded. That five second record of the events is what has been misinterpreted and circulated in the public sphere in a harmful manner," he claimed.
The student also claimed that he and the others were suspended without being given a memo or carrying out a preliminary investigation.
The issue also turned into a political row with the student organisations SFI and KSU attacking each other over it.
The Students Federation of India (SFI) alleged that a Kerala Students Union (KSU) unit vice president was involved in the incident and therefore, they were trying to justify the incident and defend the suspended students.
"They should admit their wrongs and try to correct it," an SFI leader said.
The KSU on the other hand said that while they were with the professor and understood his feelings over the incident, the students were suspended very quickly without following principles of natural justice.
KSU, the student organisation of the Congress, claimed that the video circulating on social media was patched together with several separate smaller clips and therefore, the entire video should be found and forensically examined.
It also denied the involvement of its unit vice president in the incident and alleged that KSU was being targeted and dragged into the matter by those associated with the SFI.