A 25-year-old research student in Kerala’s Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam was allegedly attacked by students belonging to CPI (M)’s student union SFI, on Tuesday.
A native of Kalady, Vivek Kumaran- a Dalit- was allegedly threatened and attacked by four students, who accused him of trying to spearhead an alternate student group on the lines of Ambedkarite thought.
According to a complaint filed at Gandhinagar police station, four students including SFI unit secretary Shyam barged into Vivek’s hostel room on Tuesday evening and attacked him.
Vivek, who fell unconscious, was later shifted to Kottayam Medical College hospital, where he is still admitted to.
The group warned Vivek against creating a new student body in the college- an SFI stronghold- and allegedly told him that they could “do anything” to him, as “no one will question if people like him were attacked.”
Vivek and his friends have alleged that such comments were directed at his caste.
"After questioning me whether I intend to start a student organization, they went on to talk about me being a Dalit. They told me that if Pulayas like me join a college, then we should concentrate in studies and leave the institution," Vivek told The News Minute.
However, SFI state secretary Vijin refuted the allegations saying that the case was "completely false and fabricated."
Admitting that SFI students had indeed gone to Vivek's room that evening, Vijin claimed that the students had gone to advice Vivek, who is a "drug addict."
"Our members got complaints from many in the hostel, on the basis of which, they went to his room to speak to him. Neither did they threaten him nor did they use force," Vijiin said.
Saying that SFI has always stood for the rights of Dalits, Vijin said that attempts are being made to tarnish the image of the leftist student body.
"There seems to be consistent attempts to escalate small issues to a national level and organize protests in say, JNU or HCU. These are all agendas by other groups to pull us down. SFI has never feared the existence of another body, it does not have to do so," Vijin asserted.
Did independent protests lead to discord?
Vivek joined the Institute of Gandhian Studies at the university over 10 months ago. As part of his research subject- Physical Violence and Domestic Abuse due to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity- Vivek used to organize seminars that discuss LGBTQ+ issues.
The SFI feared the formation of an alternate student body, Vivek said, but maintained that he has no political affiliations whatsoever.
His friend Anoop and a research student said that though Vivek joined the college only a few months ago, SFI has been upset about independent protests in the campus.
"Whenever issues of national importance come up, some of us hold independent protests and the SFI had issues with that. After Vivek joined, their issues worsened. Vivek is doing research about violence against the LGBTQ+ community and used to hold seminars and talks regarding that. In the discussions that followed, he felt that the group must also discuss about violence in general," Anoop said.
The Gandhinagar police have registered a complaint against 4 persons including SFI unit secretary Shyam, under Sections 323, 506 and 294 (b). Gandhinagar Sub-Inspector Arun said that they have recorded the statement of the victim.