Relief is the word which best describes Chandran's emotional state right now. On Friday, the father of the 20-year-old who was allegedly stabbed by SFI students in Thiruvananthapuram spent the entire night wondering if his son would make it alive.
The young student of the University College who survived a serious knife stab was put on life support after doctors at the Thiruvananthapuram medical college operated on him to plug his internal bleeding. On Saturday, Akhil was taken off ventilator support but kept under observation in the ICU.
For now, his friends and family are happy that Akhil is out of danger. But the events of Friday remain fresh in their minds, haunting them even as they recount it.
Akhil who was sitting in class on Friday got a call from an SFI committee member who asked him to step out of the classroom and come to the grounds. For the past few days, tensions had been brewing between Akhil, an SFI worker and the college SFI committee over an incident which could have well been resolved had maturity prevailed.
"Akhil and his friends used to sing in the college canteen during their free time. On one such day, a female student who was part of the SFI committee in college asked him to stop singing. He refused to oblige. The student, whose ego was bruised, went back to the committee members and complained. Since then, Akhil was being issued warnings," alleged Vaishavi, his friend and batchmate to TNM.
On the fateful day, he was allegedly pulled into the scuffle. Wearing a red shirt he was seen standing under a tree surrounded by several other students. Two of the accused, namely the SFI unit president Sivaranjith and secretary Nazeem, who were allegedly carrying knives, approached him.
"The next thing I see, his red shirt turns a deeper red and blood gushes out of a stab wound in his chest. I was horrified and we rushed him to the hospital," recalls Vaishnavi.
If the account of the University College students is anything to go by, Akhil evaded death by a hair's breadth.
"He was stabbed right below his heart, doctors said. I think they missed his heart by an inch. Had he been stabbed an inch up, he would have probably died on the spot," Abhijit, Akhil's batchmate and third year political science student tells TNM.
A national level weightlifting champion, who was training to participate in a contest in August, Akhil will now have to stay off competitions for at least six months, till he completely heals from his injuries.
"For the last two years, Akhil was bringing glory to his college. He had won the championship for Thiruvananthapuram university in the all Kerala level since his first year. Now he will have to stay away from competitions till he heals completely," says his father Chandran.
Meanwhile, there is no sight of all the seven accused SFI committee members. While they were present inside the college campus without facing arrest on Friday, the police were unsuccessful in tracking them down on Saturday.
"They are absconding. We searched for Sivaranjith and Nazeem in their houses and their relatives houses but could not find them. We are still investigating," says Anilkumar, CI of the Cantonment police station.
The seven accused whose names are in the FIR include Sivaranjith, unit secretaries Nazeem, Amar, Advaith, Adhin, Aromal and Ibrahim. Main accused Sivaranjith, who allegedly stabbed Akhil, had just secured a rank in the State Police Test from Kasaragod. Ironically, he was also booked in December 2018 for assaulting two traffic police officers in Palayam.
Twenty-three others have also been named in the FIR. They were booked on the basis of the statements of Akhil's friend and classmate Ubair, who identified them on sight. All 30 accused have been booked under IPC section 307 (attempt to murder).
The police delayed arresting the accused immediately, say students in the college. However, Akhil's family is confident that the investigations will move forward.
"The police are trying their best to investigate. As a family, we are all supporters of the CPI(M). We are sure that the administration will take this seriously," Chandran added.