Five DYFI workers lost their lives in police firing at Koothuparamba town in Kannur on this day in 1994.

24th anniversary of Koothuparamba firing When a protest turned into a killingSumesh MV Thayampoyil/Facebook
news Politics Sunday, November 25, 2018 - 16:44

For any politically conscious Keralite, the Koothuparamba firing is an unforgettable incident. For Left supporters, the death of the five workers of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI (M), is still haunting.

Today, Kerala is commemorating the 24th anniversary of the brutal police firing that happened at Koothuparamba town in Kannur. Five youths lost their lives in one of the most infamous incidents in the political history of the state. The martyrs are KK Rajeevan, KV Roshan, V Madhu, Shibulal and Kunduchira Babu. Rajeevan was the DYFI district vice-president, Roshan was district secretariat member and Madhu, Shibulal and Kunduchira Babu were workers. Six other DYFI workers were also injured in the firing during a protest against commoditisation and privatisation of education.

What is the Koothuparamba firing?

It happened on November 25, 1994 when the DYFI had organised a protest against the educational policy – of granting government quota seats to the management – of the then United Democratic Front government led by the Congress. Police resorted to firing when the protesters blocked minister MV Raghavan, who was in town to inaugurate an event.

Raghavan was the then minister for cooperation and ports. Known as MVR, he had been a hardcore leader of the CPI (M), who later parted ways with the party.

“The time was 9 am. I reached Koothuparamba town. Comrades had just reached the protest venue. Once the district leaders also arrived, we suggested that the comrades assemble at one point. We reminded everyone that they should protest by waving black flags when the minister arrives. It was a Gandhian mode of protest and we had informed this to all the protesters. Hence everyone had black flags with them,” writes senior CPI (M) leader MV Jayarajan in a Facebook post.

The minister reached by 12 noon. He spoke for nearly 15 minutes and returned after a while amidst tight police security. The police deployed tear gas shells to disperse the protesters and began firing when the tear gas shells failed to disperse the mob. The firing lasted for two hours. As many as 2,000 DYFI workers were gathered for the protest. Minister Ramakrishnan, who had to preside over the function, kept away from it following information on the possibility of tensions.

“Koothuparamba town has become a sea of young people. Might be because it was an event to be attended by the minister and might be because the protest was announced in advance, but police personnel were deployed in large numbers. The sound of the firing and scattered bloodstains are still fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday,” Jayarajan’s post further reads.

Currently private secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, MV Jayarajan was the state joint secretary of the DYFI then.

Living martyr

Pushpan of Chokli in Kannur survived the firing. But for the past 24 years he hasn’t been able to move from his bed by his own. A bullet hit his spinal cord during the firing, which has rendered him paralysed and bedridden since then.

In June 2012, the Kerala High Court quashed the murder charges framed against deputy collector TT Antony, IPS officer Ravada Chandrasekhar and four other police officials in connection with the firing. The court quashed the case on the grounds that necessary government sanction for prosecuting public officials was not obtained in the case.

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