Thiruvananthapuram: After a week marked by student protests across Kerala following the suicide of a private engineering college student near Thrissur, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has accused the private education sector of resorting to profiteering.

Speaking at the 75th anniversary of the Devagiri College in Kozhikode, the chief minister said private self-financing educational institutions had turned into commercial ventures.

“This cannot be tolerated. Those who are violating the norms will be brought to book, and the vigilance department has been instructed about this”, Vijayan said. However, he added that no one was willing to lodge formal complaints against college managements.

Kerala’s education sector is marked by government institutions, private institutions and a third category where private institutions have their staff salaries paid by the government. These are known as government-aided institutions.

The chief minister also criticised the managements of colleges run by Christian churches. “Christian managements were the exceptions to the practice of collecting money, but now even some of them have begun to adopt this corrupt practice”, Vijayan said.

The chief minister said many organisations had started colleges with an eye on making profit, and that even liquor barons established colleges and auctioned the job opportunities in those institutions. Vijayan said the government would inquire into the “corruption and loot” prevalent in the self-financing educational sector.

Last week, violence was sparked at the Nehru College, a self-financing institution near Thrissur, where a first-year engineering student, Jishnu Pranoy committed suicide. Angry students marched to the college and caused widespread destruction to the building and campus.

This was followed by protests and vandalism in different colleges in Kerala, including the Toms Engineering College near Kottayam and the Kerala Law Academy in Thiruvananthapuram. The Student Federation of India, the students’ wing of the Communist Party of India Marxist has been at the forefront of these strikes.