A site of protest near the Kerala Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday turned into a war zone as a protest march by members of the Youth Congress reached a saturation point when the police resorted to tear gas bombs and stun grenades to disperse the protestors.
The chants of protests were against Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government and the Students Federation of India (SFI), which has been in the news for stabbing a student (also an SFI member) of the Thiruvananthapuram University College on July 12.
The clash, on Monday, took place between the police and members of the Youth Congress and Kerala Students Union (KSU) outside the Secretariat.
It all began with the march, led by their state president and Lok Sabha MP Dean Kuriakose, to the Secretariat on Monday morning. Heavy security was in place throughout the Palayam - Statue road, which is in the heart of the city, as the University College was reopening after being closed for 10 days following the stabbing incident.
It was a peaceful atmosphere initially with the protestors resorting to a sit-down protest outside the main gate of the Secretariat and raising anti-government slogans. The police had maintained restraint throughout, barring a few minor incidents of lathi-charge to prevent the protestors from breaking into the Secretariat. An initial round of water cannons was also used to control the Youth Congress workers, who were trying to break the barricades in front of the main gate. Following this, there was a brief period of calm.
Youth Congress protest in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.Posted by TheNewsMinute on Monday, July 22, 2019
But the situation took an ugly turn when protestors started pelting stones at the police, following which, the police resorted to lathi-charge and water cannons to disperse the crowd. Later, as the number of protestors swelled, the police resorted to using tear gas shells and stun grenades, causing a thunderous sound of the explosion to rip through the air.
The clashes, which started around 12.30 pm, went on for about half an hour. Several members of the Youth Congress and KSU sustained injuries. They were immediately rushed to the hospital in ambulances.
Ever since the incident where an SFI member stabbed another SFI member - both students of the University College, on July 12 - various political outfits took out protest marches accusing the ruling CPI(M)â€™s studentâ€™s outfit SFI of carrying out a â€śfascist ruleâ€ť in the college and their violent functioning on the campus.
In the last one week, the district had been witnessing protests from various student outfits following the stabbing incident and the police had used water cannons and lathi-charge to disperse them.
On July 15, members of the Kerala Studentsâ€™ Union or KSU (the studentsâ€™ wing of the Congress), led by their state president KM Abhijith, began a hunger strike outside the Kerala Secretariat demanding a judicial probe into the stabbing incident at University College. The hunger strike was finally called off on Monday, which was the eighth day of the strike, after the tear gas bombs and stun grenades landed near the protest tent, injuring a few KSU activists, including the state president Abhijith, who were immediately rushed to the hospital.