The Cantonment Police in Thiruvananthapuram early Monday morning arrested two Students Federation of India (SFI) leaders accused of stabbing a third-year student of the University College on Friday in the state capital. SFI is the student wing of the ruling CPM in the state.
R Sivaranjith, the president of the now-disbanded SFI unit in the college and the first accused in the case, and AN Naseem, the SFI college unit secretary and the second accused, were apprehended from an auto-rickshaw in the Keshavadasapuram area around 3 am Monday, an officer at the Cantonment Police station confirmed.
The officer said the accused were being questioned and evidence pointing to their involvement in the stabbing incident was being collected. Four other leaders of the CPM student wing – Adwaith, Aromal, Ijab, and Adhil, all of whom are office-bearers of the SFI unit in the University College, are learned to have surrendered before the police.
They have been remanded in custody, the officer said. All six students, alleged to have involvement in the case, have been indefinitely suspended from the college.
On Friday morning, Akhil Chandran, a third-year student of BA Political Science, was stabbed in the chest by SFI leaders on the 153-year-old campus following differences between the two groups. Some of Akhil’s friends were beaten as well by the SFI activists.
The feud originated after Akhil and his friends sang songs in the college canteen, much to the displeasure of the CPM student leaders. Akhil, an amateur weight-lifter and a prospective athlete of the college, has suffered injuries to the heart and is undergoing treatment at the Medical College hospital in the city.
The injuries pose a grim challenge to Akhil’s career in weight-lifting. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan paid a visit to Akhil at the hospital and publicly criticised the functioning of the SFI unit in the college.
After Akhil was stabbed, dozens of students including those with an allegiance to the SFI, protested against the outfit in the college demanding an end to what they described as authoritarian functioning.
Female students complained to the media that male SFI leaders routinely harassed them, forcing them to participate in agitations without offering them food or water. The leaders also engaged in moral policing, they alleged, by admonishing boys and girls who sat together and issuing veiled threats against public singing.
Answer-sheets, official seal found at accused’s residence
The police, while conducting a raid at the residence of the prime-accused Sivaranjith, discovered unused answer sheets belonging to the Kerala University given to students appearing for examinations. Official seals used by the college’s physical training department were also discovered by the police.
Kerala University Vice-Chancellor Mahadevan Pillai has ordered a probe into the matter. The university’s pro-vice-chancellor and exam controller have been directed to lead the probe and submit a report as soon as possible.
Ironically, Sivaranjith had secured the top rank in an examination conducted by the Kerala Public Service Commission to employ constables to the Kerala Armed Police battalion. AN Naseem, the second accused in the stabbing case, secured the 28th rank in the examination.
CPM says it will not protect accused.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, after meeting Akhil at the hospital, told reporters that the party will neither protect the accused in the stabbing case nor interfere in any way in the police investigation. He said the SFI is an independent organisation and its leadership is capable of carrying out rectifying measures. He was accompanied by former culture minister MA Baby and central committee member MV Govindan.
At the same time, senior CPM leader and PWD minister G Sudhakaran asked the SFI leadership to examine how criminals came to be part of the organisation’s members in colleges and universities. He added that people with criminal track-record should not be recruited into the police force.