“Small sacrifices must be made!” uttered Otto Lilienthal from his death bed after breaking his spine in a fatal crash of his experimental aircraft. We have collectively made those small sacrifices and made a humble beginning........
Aagneya is a reality.......
The task at hand was tough but the enormity of it, inviting. At the team-aagneya, we had a few young men and women who relished a good challenge or two and they thrived as the task began to appear tougher than expected. As the famous saying goes; even our 'little squirrels' contributed in whatever way they could ...... :-)
Most people will frown if we say that we had put our lives on the lines, but at least a few will understand the truth behind the statement.
So goes my post on the blog of GEC Barton Hill dated Saturday, 5 April, 2008
But all these could not have been possible without the support of the then Home Minister.
I had thought of writing in acknowledgement many a time in the past. Most recently, when his health had a sudden deterioration after a surgery and my wife had the privilege of examining him and writing the report. Professional priorities have changed and along with it, changed the reading and writing habits. And it got prolonged indefinitely. But if I do not put it down now in writing, it may remain a lifelong regret.
In 2007, a very dynamic group of students had come up with a proposal to organize a techno-cultural fest for GEC, Barton Hill with the intention of continuing it every year. But, unfortunately, it failed to take off due to the unreasonable demands from a group of local trouble makers who had been fleecing the students on one pretext or the other.
The following year, a very much supportive, broad minded, and friendly, P S Chandramohanan Sir assumed charge as our Principal. The students, led by the new batch of office bearers of the college union decided to make a fresh attempt at organizing the event and began receiving threats from day one. Sensing that the students were unyielding on account of the patronage from the faculty members, the threats were redirected to the teachers: “We can easily find our way to your teacher’s home and put a sword on the neck of his wife and then let’s see how brave he can be” was one message sent through the students. To which the humble reply was “they were most welcome, but the wife can’t serve them tea, as there wasn’t one at home.” Another threat was to destroy the car, which was also welcomed for it was old enough to be given away. Jokes apart, the particular group was more than capable of executing their threats.
Days passed and on the eve of the D-day, we had to attend one inter institutional quiz competition. The quiz master Vijayakumar Sir was mentioning about a lack of focus from my side and during the break, we explained to him about the reasons behind the lack of focus. He had mentioned that once upon a time his family used to command the respect of the local people in the troublesome region around the campus, but it’s no longer possible to advise them against the evildoings. My phone rang even as we were having that conversation and on attending the call, I heard the student leaders at the forefront of organizing the event, one after the other, sobbing and begging me to stop the preparations for event. It was very much apparent that they were speaking under duress and I broke the conversation, apologized to the Quiz Master and my partner Prof. Balu John and rushed to the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Police nearby. I handed over the intimation letters to the Police from the Principal even as I struggled to find words to explain the urgency of the situation to the ACP. Fortunately, the ACP, very much rough and a typical police officer, happened be the Father of one of my old students and showed the courtesy of listening to me. As we were speaking, my phone rang again and this time I quickly handed over the phone to the officer sitting in front of me. He misunderstood the situation and began blaming the students but was kind enough to order his subordinates to check the location for any untoward incident. I rushed out of the room and Balu Sir also joined me and we decided to go to the location by ourselves after intimating the Principal about the incidents. We met the head of the administrative section of the college Sri. Kavanad Ravi Sir on our way to the car and quickly briefed him also. Being the brave and fearless man that he is, he also turned his bike in the direction of the college. Police had already arrived by the time we reached the college and they were questioning the students, who were badly beaten up and could barely stand up, in the police way. I tried unsuccessfully to interfere in the interrogation on behalf of the students and tried to reach a ruling party MLA who had offered us all support and protection from the goons. He was out of reach and I requested my good friend, his PA, to inform him as soon as possible. Principal had also reached and it was getting dark. As I was walking in and out of the rooms, not knowing what to do, I noticed one member of the student union sitting quietly with his friends and watching the proceedings, probably waiting for instructions from his teachers and friends. I walked up to him and said, calling out his name: “You had observed first hand, what has happened here and what’s going on and you know that all our students had functioned only in the best interests of the institution. I see no other way, an instruction should come directly from the Home Minister, and nothing less will be useful at this hour.” He readily agreed to reach out to the Home Minister and within no time, the ACP arrived at the scene and the entire process of interrogation of students was stopped. Police personnel in plainclothes approached me and collected my number and assured me not to worry and offered the support of the entire force for the successful conduct of the event. To this day, I believe that was an instruction directly given by the Home Minister.
The next day, a large posse of policemen raided the entire neighbourhood and caught a few goons who had beaten up the students. And in the evening as the event took off in a grand way at the Nishagandhi, we could spot, as we watched out with the tired but unblinking eyes for any metal piece springing out of the crowd to spill our blood as promised by the hooligans, the plainclothes men of the Home Minister keeping a close watch on us as well as the crowd.
Aagneya had the tagline ‘Unleash the fire within’
Com. Kodiyeri, the then Home Minister, had an undeniable role in kindling that fire.
And as he is lying in state, we gratefully acknowledge his patronage, caring and protection for a group of youngsters who had dared to dream during their days of distress a decade and half ago.
*Names of some individuals are not revealed respecting their right to privacy.