Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan (Mint file)
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan (Mint file)

Congress workers, police clash during anti-govt protests in Kerala

  • Youth Congress workers were staging a march in support of the ongoing week-long hunger strike by the Kerala Student's Union against the ruling Left government
  • The police used stun grenades and tear gas against protestors, injuring at least 20 police officers and activists, according to reports

Bengaluru: Clashes broke out between Youth Congress workers and the police in Kerala on Monday, leaving at least 20 police officers and party activists injured, according to local reports.

The march by Youth Congress workers, in support of the ongoing hunger strike by the party’s student outfit Kerala Student's Union (KSU) against the ruling Left government, took a violent turn, forcing the police to use stun grenades and tear gas, the reports said.

KSU state president Abhijit, on hunger strike, was injured in the clashes that occurred in front of the secretariat in the capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The violence comes at a time when the state is heading towards by-election to six-assembly seats where the Left government is under pressure to perform well. The Left had lost in a big way in the recent parliamentary polls in the state, with Congress and allies defeating the front in 19 of 20 seats.

Kerala has been on the boil ever since clashes within pro-Left student union Student's Federation of India (SFI) broke out in University College in Thiruvananthapuram, a red-bastion, and led to the killing of one SFI leader by another worker. The violence rapidly snowballed into a major political controversy. The police had seized bundles of blank answer sheets of the university from the residence of the prime accused in the stabbing case, SFI leader Sivaranjith, casting a doubt over his performance in a public recruitment exam.

Sivaranjith had topped the police constable recruitment list by the Public Service Commission. One of his top aides in SFI, another accused in the stabbing case, had also scored high marks in the exam. The opposition alleged that the SFI leaders defrauded the public recruitment exam, reputed to be fool-proof in Kerala, and the government bent rules for them to score high marks.

Over the last one week, the opposition Congress leaders had been holding a series of agitations, despite the government launching a comprehensive probe and the police arresting most of the accused in the stabbing case. Senior Congress leaders have called for a judicial probe or Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the alleged recruitment scam.

Kerala Governor P Sathasivam summoned the university vice-chancellor and the board chairman on Monday.

SFI has suspended Sivaranjith and the entire university unit. On Monday, with SFI on the defense, other student political outfits, including AIYF, KSU and the pro-BJP ABVP student outfits, announced launching their units in the college, seeking political space which has been denied to them for decades. SFI was the sole students’ union in the college as others were alleged physically prevented from starting a unit, including one by another communist student outfit AIYF (All Indian Youth Federation).

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