A late-night brawl on Tuesday, 15 March, between rival student union members appears to have disrupted normal life in Kerala's capital city Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, 16 March. The incident reverberated in the ongoing Assembly session with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan engaging in a war of words.
Trouble broke out on Tuesday night between the students of SFI and Congress-backed KSU at the Law College in Thiruvananthapuram. Reportedly, the KSU students got badly mauled by the CPI-M-backed SFI students.
Safina, a woman KSU activist, suffered injuries and two other male students also reportedly got badly beaten up by the SFI cadre.
All the three students are presently admitted to the state-run Medical College and Hospital here.
Satheesan raised this issue in the Assembly and said the attack that began on the college campus had reached the homes of KSU students.
"The lady KSU activist was attacked and the police remained as mute witness to the barbaric act of the SFI students. The scenario in the state is such that one cannot distinguish between goons and SFI students. The Chief Minister has given a license to these SFI students to attack all their adversaries and is protecting them as you behave like a party secretary. This is dangerous and this has to change [sic]," said Satheesan.
But not to be cowed down by speeches, Vijayan hit back at Satheesan and told him he should not stoop to the level of the "backbenchers in the opposition side."
"Satheesan is behaving in an unbecoming manner and appears to have lost his bearings after the massive loss his party suffered in the assembly polls. It's your party (Congress) which has hunted and haunted political opponents," said Vijayan.
In the afternoon, angry KSU activists took to the streets in the capital city, while the Assembly session was going on.
The protests were led by three Congress legislators and they courted arrest after the police decided to forcefully remove them.
The Assembly on Wednesday also witnessed SFI attack on KSU activists as Congress MP Hibi Eden raised the issue and demanded protection for the students.
There were protests by the KSU activists in other parts of the state as they took to the streets demanding action against the SFI workers who attacked their counterparts in the Law College.
The police in the capital city have registered multiple cases against both the rival student union members.
The Congress-led Opposition will be raising this issue on Thursday with a detailed account of how their student activists were being gagged up across the state by the SFI students, while the police turn to be mute spectators.
(Published in arrangement with IANS. The story was edited for clarity.)