Celebrations turning into political clashes in college campuses is not a new phenomenon in Kerala. On Friday, a college in Thrissur district witnessed a political clash between two student political groups during Onam celebrations, leading to police action. But what made these clashes tragic is the death of TH Shahim, a 20-year-old student and how his death was politicised later for petty gains.
Shahim a second year electrical engineering student at the Akkikkavu Royal Engineering College, near Kunnamkulam while being chased away from the college, died after falling into a well.
Shahim's death however has now been turned into a political spectacle.
How it all started
On Friday, a tug of war competition in the college lead to a clash between Kerala Students Union (KSU, student wing of Congress party) and Student Federation of India (SFI, student wing of CPIM) members.
â€śIn the evening after the clash got over, some students gathered in front of the menâ€™s hostel and police was called to disperse them. While they were running, Shahim accidentally fell in the well,â€ť said Sijin Vyloppally, KSU Thrissur District Committee Secretary.
Some reports however said that there was minor lathi-charge by the police to disperse the students.
The politics after the tragedy
Following the tragedy, the situation turned violent as the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) called for a half day hartal on Saturday. The CPI(M) had claimed that Shahim was an SFI activist. Meanwhile, some students attacked the college and a Taluk Hospital nearby where some of the students who were injured in the clash were admitted.
According to the KSU, the hospital was attacked as KSU activists were admitted there. "The CPI(M) made the issue worse.," says Sijin.
â€śThough the SFI claimed he was part of their group, as per latest information, the Muslim Leagueâ€™s Palakkad district committee has released a press note claiming that he was an MSF member. The death was an accident,â€ť Sijin said.
Press release issued by Muslim Youth League claiming that Shahim was a youth league worker
However SFI district committee alleged that the college management and the police were responsible for the death of Shahim.
SFI Thrissur District president Rosselraj KS told TNM that the clash inside campus was not political and the management portrayed it as a political clash.
â€śFollowing some competition, some of the students fought with each other. The college management that is lenient to the Congress party made it look like a political clash and called police. When police arrived the situation was calm, but they still behaved in a cruel fashion and chased the students out,â€ť Rosselraj alleged.
The Thrissur SP says that prime-facie it seemed there had been no lapses on the police's behalf.
â€śThere was a major clash between the groups and some of them were admitted to the hospital. The police force was trying to disperse them to avoid any further trouble. A detailed probe will be conducted to find out whether there were any flaws from our side and necessary action will be taken,â€ť Thrissur Rural Superintendent of Police N Vijayakumar said.