Three young political leaders who have been leading protests against Minister KT Jaleel in Kerala have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Two youth leaders of the Congress party and former district secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) have been infected with the novel coronavirus, they revealed on their respective Facebook pages.
Youth leaders of rival political parties of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been protesting for several days, demanding the resignation of minister Jaleel, after he was questioned by multiple investigative agencies about a consignment of Qurans received from the United Arab Emirates consulate during Ramzan.
Nabeel Kallambalam, state general secretary of Kerala Students Union (KSU) - youth wing of the Congress party, who was recently elected as national coordinator of National Students Union of India (NSUI), wrote amid congratulatory messages on his Facebook page of having contracted COVID-19.
"Thanks to everyone who has wished me. I could not attend or return many calls. I have been having health issues for two days. Today I have tested positive for the coronavirus. I request everyone who has been in contact with me in the past few days to go under observation," Nabeel wrote on Sunday. Videos of his taking part in the protests which have been rocking the state the past few days are on his Facebook.
Saithali Kaippadi, Thiruvananthapuram district president of the KSU, too has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. "Dear friends, since my close relative is confirmed to have got COVID-19, I have been in quarantine since last Tuesday, September 15. Today I have tested positive," he wrote on Saturday.
He has posted live videos of the protest march in Secretariat on September 14.
Meanwhile, TP Akhil Dev - national youth volunteer at Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, who was former Palakkad district secretary of ABVP -- wrote that he had not hidden that he had tested positive and there was a campaign against him. Akhil had posted earlier that he tested positive after an antigen test at Perinthalmanna KIMS Al Shifa hospital. On Tuesday, he wrote that he had found out the source of his disease and informed it to the health authorities.
"The person who is the source of my disease has not taken part in the march at Palakkad Collectorate. It is after the march that I travelled in a vehicle with him," Akhil wrote.
The police had registered 385 cases against the protesters and arrested 1,131 of them towards the end of last week. The protests had turned violent in many parts of the state.
Last week the Kerala High Court heard a public interest litigation to ban protests of political parties to contain the spread of COVID-19. The court had earlier banned all protests for this reason till July 31, which it later extended to August 31.
Watch: Protests demanding KT Jaleel's resignation turn violent in Kerala