Six months after the controversial incident where a student of Thiruvananthapuram University College was stabbed on campus, Students Federation of India (SFI) — the student wing of the CPI(M)-led LDF government in the state — has once again landed in trouble as two of its leaders at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) have been booked for attacking a fellow student and causing head injuries. The student was attacked allegedly over a scuffle at a campus hostel.
On Sunday night, Azail Aboobacker, a fourth-year degree student of the Department of Instrumentation, was attacked allegedly by Prajith K Babu and Rahul Peralam, two leaders of the SFI unit on the campus. Rahul Peralam is the president and Prajith is the secretary of the SFI unit. They are first-year M.Tech students.
According to the police, the incident took place around 10.30 pm on Sunday at the CUSAT junction in Kochi. The leaders, who were in a car, allegedly knocked down Azail from his bike and hit his head with an iron rod. The Kalamassery police have taken a case against the two.
TNM spoke to one of the students who found Azail lying on the road after being attacked. “I was returning to the hostel after watching a football match. On the way, I saw somebody lying on the road, with a bike on him. Another person was trying to remove the bike from the man. It was when I took a closer look, I realised it was Azail. His head was soaked in blood. We immediately took him to the hostel, tied his head with a cloth and his friends took him to hospital,” Suhail, a PG student of the campus, said. “When though he was losing consciousness, he told us that Rahul and Prajith attacked him,” the student added.
According to the students of the university, Azail has received 13 stitches on his head and is admitted at Kalamassery Medical College. His condition is stable.
Meanwhile, officials of Kalamassery police station said that they have also booked the person, who was removing the bike on an unconscious Azail, in the case. “The man had left by the time I reached the spot. Even Azail said he doesn't know who he is, but we can recognise him,” said Suhail.
Condemning the attack on Azail, hundreds of students of the university, on Monday, held a sit-in in front of the administrative block, demanding a probe and action against the accused in the case. The students stopped their protest by noon after getting an assurance from the Vice-Chancellor that an inquiry committee will be formed.
Hostel scuffle prompted attack?
According to the students of the university, the attack was allegedly following a minor scuffle between the two student leaders and other students at the hostel last week.
“The scuffle took place during the annual celebration at a first-year students’ hostel called Sanathana,” Hafiz Ahmed, a third-year student and junior of Azail, told TNM. “We were invited by our juniors to the event. Both the SFI leaders are residents of the hostel. During the event, some personal arguments broke out between the SFI leaders and some other students. The two asked some of us, who were invited by our juniors, to get out of the hostel. It was then that Azail intervened and questioned their authority. We think this is the reason behind the attack,” he said.
According to the students of the university, Azail is not part of any political party. “This is why we are intrigued. Azail had just posed a question when we were asked to get out of the hostel. There was no political rivalry, yet he was brutally attacked. That is why even members of SFI came to take part in the protest on Monday. The protest is not against the party, but the two leaders,” said Hafiz.
The police have booked Rahul Peralam and Prakith K Babu under sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 294 (b) (uttering obscenities), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
It was in July 2019 that six members of SFI, including the unit leaders of Thiruvananthapuram University College, were arrested for stabbing a fellow student. CPI(M) was in a fix following the incident.