A 63-year-old onlooker died on Tuesday when chaos broke out at the Kerala Law Academy in Thiruvananthapuram, where students have been protesting for the past 27 days against the academy management.
The deceased has been identified as retired KSRTC conductor Abdul Jabbar (66).
A huge crowd had gathered on Tuesday evening on the main road leading to the academy after a student climbed on a tree and threatened to commit suicide if his demands were not met immediately.
He demanded that academy Principal Lekshmi Nair -- whom the protesting students accuse of ill-treatment, and who has been charged under the SC/ST Atrocities Act -- should be arrested, her passport impounded. He also sought that the academy students' demands should be taken up at the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Thiruvananthapuram Sub Collector Divya Iyer assured the student that his demands would be taken up with the higher-ups.
As the student agreed to come down from his perch on the tree, chaos broke out and stones were pelted. In the melee, a 63-year-old onlooker, Abdul Jabbar, collapsed and died.
Local legislator K. Muraleedharan, whose indefinite fast continued for the sixth day in support of the demands of the protesting students, said that Jabbar has become the first martyr of the ongoing protest.
State Congress President V.M. Sudheeran demanded a probe into the death of Jabbar.
All the student organisations, barring the CPI-M-backed Students' Federation of India, are taking part in the protest.
The students wing of the RSS, the ABVP, has announced that its activists will march towards the state secretariat on Wednesday where the cabinet meeting is to take place, and demand that the state government intervene and settle the students' protests.
The CPI, the second biggest ally in the CPI-M, is also strongly opposed to the manner in which the CPI-M has been handling the Law Academy issue.