Police on Tuesday fired tear gas at Youth Congress workers denouncing alleged collusion between the government and private colleges over the fee structure in professional colleges.
The Youth Congress workers alleged that when the Congress was in power, the fee was increased by seven per cent. But the present government had raised it by 35 per cent in one go.
Tear gas shells fell in front of Congress President V.M. Sudheeran when he was visiting the demonstrators, who have been on an indefinite fast for eight days in front of the Secretariat.
"Never before has such a thing happened... I was surprised to see how police used force against our activists," said an angry Sudheeran, who sat in the middle of the road against "police high-handedness".
State Youth Congress President Dean Kuriakose and his deputy C.R. Mahesh, who have been fasting, were shifted to a hospital after the police action.
About a dozen people, including police and Youth Congress activists, were injured in the clash and taken to hospital.
The police action took place after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made some curt remarks against the Youth Congress.
Leaders of the Congress-led UDF then decided to observe a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in the capital district.
Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, also took potshots at the media.