Thiruvananthapuram: In remarks that have triggered a controversy, Kerala Education Minister PK Abdu Rabb on Tuesday said he was not in favour of boys and girls sitting next to each other in college campuses.
However, he said he had nothing against students sitting in separate chairs together in the class.
"I have no idea if boys and girls are sitting intermingled in any college in the state," he told media personnel.
"I have nothing against students sitting in separate chairs," he said, adding he had not received any complaints from Farooq College where the management had suspended a student for allegedly defying its directive not to share seats with girls in the campus.
Dinu K, a first year student of the college, had been suspended last month for being part of a group of boys and girls who sat next to each other on a bench in the classroom in their campus, going against the management's diktat.
The students were asked to bring their parents and tender written apologies for 'defying disciplinary rules'.
Though all the others complied, Dinu refused to do so saying he had not committed any crime, following which he was suspended. He moved the Kerala High Court which stayed his suspension.
An aided college lecturer in Malappuram was dismissed from service recently for allegedly supporting through a Facebook comment the students of Farooq College who are protesting against the gender discrimination.
While the lecturer, C P Muhammed Shafeeq, guest lecturer of English department of Sullamusalam Science college, Areekode, claimed he had been suspended for supporting Dinu, the college management said it was for "obscene" language used in the post.
Meanwhile, various students unions, including Kerala Students Union and All India Students Federation have threatened to go on agitation if the minister does not withdraw his statement.