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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Survivor of Kerala’s vicious political violence signs in as doctor in native village

A beaming Asna told local reporters, "I am very, very happy. I have managed to complete my education and get the job I have always wanted. I can also work close to home."

Written by Vishnu Varma | Kochi | Updated: February 5, 2020 7:50:33 pm
Accompanied by her father K Nanu, a beaming Asna signed the attendance register at the health centre marking her first day at the job she’s always wanted as a child.

On the fateful morning of September 27, 2000, when local body elections were in full swing across Kerala, six-year-old K Asna was playing with her younger brother in front of their home in Poovathur when a crude bomb hurled by a bunch of BJP workers landed in the courtyard and sliced off her right leg. Her brother Anand and mother Shantha suffered injuries too. The bomb blast was seen as a consequence of vicious political rivalry as Asna’s father was attached to the Congress party.

Nineteen years later, Asna has tenaciously fought her way through the crippling injury casting aside years of suffering to emerge as an inspiring role model. On Wednesday morning, Asna took charge as a doctor at the family health centre in her native village of Cheruvanchery after completing her education at the prestigious Kozhikode Medical College.

Accompanied by her father K Nanu, a beaming Asna signed the attendance register at the health centre marking her first day at the job she’s always wanted as a child. The locals in her village, who financially supported her education, were also there at the health centre to welcome her with garlands. A beaming Asna told local reporters, “I am very, very happy. I have managed to complete my education and get the job I have always wanted. I can also work close to home.”

Asna received an artificial leg when she was in class six, but to this day she struggles to come to terms with the accoutrement and doesn’t prefer walking a lot. But the physical agony didn’t let her down as she made up for it by scoring high in class 10 and class 12 exams.

Asna’s accomplishments have been ably supported by the locals and the Congress party, of which her father was a sympathiser. When she expressed her desire to pursue medicine, the locals pitched in with nearly Rs 15 lakhs to pay the fees. The Kannur district committee of the Congress built a sturdy home for the family by raising money from within. And when she realised that she would have to climb a lot of stairs to reach her classroom on the fourth floor, then-chief minister Oommen Chandy approved an elevator in the building.

In 2008, 14 BJP-RSS workers were found guilty by the Kerala High Court for hurling the bomb at Asna’s courtyard. One of the convicts, A Ashokan, is out on bail and is presently associated with the CPI(M).

The incident has remained a glaring example of the bloodshed that has shaped political rivalry in Kerala’s Kannur district. Though the political and ideological fault lines have primarily been between the CPM and BJP-RSS, victims have included those of the Congress, Muslim League and other parties as well. The victims in most cases have belonged to financially impoverished families with trials that have lingered on for decades.

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