KSU and SFI, student wings of the Congress and CPM in Kerala, are known to be staunch rivals across campuses in the state. They fight for student union posts without conceding an inch to each other and share bitter ideological differences. But late Wednesday night, the KSU unit of the Maharaja’s College in Kochi, an old and celebrated institution in the state, sidestepped those differences to send out a message of peace in the wake of the brutal murder of a young SFI activist earlier this week.
Abhimanyu was stabbed to death allegedly by workers of SDPI, the political arm of the Popular Front, after an altercation over the painting of graffiti on one of the campus walls. Students, teachers, and activists reacted with alarm to the incident in a campus famous for its political activism but rarely reporting any form of violence.
In a Facebook post, which has now gone viral, the KSU unit of the college said, “Those were days of great happiness. The first one to come for a KSU-organised programme was an SFI worker. His team came in the second position. His smile and happiness from that day remain till this day. Did you know that all political outfits functioned sharing the same happiness and friendship? In the last one-and-a-half years, this campus has not even seen a small fight. Maybe it was the presence of individuals like Abhimanyu that created such friendships here. Let us rip apart the organisations that sow the seeds of hate in Maharajas. Let us tell our politics keeping our hands on each others’ shoulders. This campus should not sleep. Let us unite for Abhimanyu and his dreams. Let us turn Maharajas into the old Maharajas.”
The post also had photographs of Abhimanyu playing football with KSU workers. It has been liked 13000 times and shared by over 4500 users.
The student union in the college is currently headed by the SFI which had won a record 13 out of 14 posts with seven female members in 2017. The institution is seen as a strong Left citadel although it has elected students affiliated to KSU a number of times.
Classes reopened in the college on Wednesday two days after Abhimanyu’s murder. At remembrance meetings conducted in memory of the youngster, teachers and fellow students spoke of how much they missed him. Abhimanyu belonged to a poor Adivasi family from Vattavada region of Idukki district. He was a member of the SFI’s district committee there.
The Kochi city police have arrested seven persons till Thursday, all of them affiliated to the SDPI, with more arrests likely in the days to come. Police sources say the murder could have been planned in advance.