SFI activist murdered in Kerala college: Widespread outrage strengthens state govt's plea to home ministry on PFI ban

The gruesome murder of a 20-year-old activist of the Students' Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), at the Maharaja’s College in Ernakulam triggered outrage across the state.

Abhimanyu, a second-year undergraduate student, was stabbed to death on the midnight on 1 July following a dispute over wall graffiti welcoming freshers to the college, which is the alma mater of senior Congress leaders like AK Antony and Vayalar Ravi, former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, Swami Chinmayananda and actor Mammootty.

The CPM has blamed Campus Front of India (CFI), promoted by Popular Front of India (PFI) and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), for killing the youth. Party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged that the murder of Abhimanyu was aimed at creating an atmosphere of fear on the campuses.

However, Congress leaders feel that radical communal outfits have been making an entry into campuses due to denial of space to secular and democratic forces to function on campuses by student organisations that dominate the colleges. Antony, a former chief minister, said that SFI and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad of BJP were in the forefront when it came to denying organisational rights to others.

“The two organisations have been denying freedom to other student unions to carry out their organisational activities in whichever college where they have a strong presence,” said Antony.

KM Abhijith, state president of Kerala Students Union (KSU), the student wing of the Congress Party, said this dominance of the strong was the major reason for the growing violence on the college campuses. He told Firstpost that violence had erupted at the Maharaja’s College when the SFI prevented the CFI activists from sticking their poster on a college wall.

File image of Kerala Police. Getty images

File image of Kerala Police. Getty images

“SFI uses force to prevent the entry of rival student unions into the colleges where they have a dominance. A number of KSU activists were attacked and our flags and other campaign materials destroyed when we challenged their autocratic and fascist actions,” the KSU leader said.

Abhijith said that the situation was the same in other colleges where the SFI holds sway. The youth and trade union wings come to the support of SFI where they are weak. The murder of Youth Congress leader M Suhaib in Kannur in January this year is a glaring example.

The 30-year-old youth was murdered after he came to the help of KSU workers who were beaten up by the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) activists during a Congress student union meet at a school in Mattannur, Abhijith said.

The SFI also does not spare the college staff authorities who question their illegal activities. In January last year, SFI activists took out the chair of the college principal from her office and burnt it at the entrance of the campus in protest against disciplinary measures initiated by the college management.

In April 2016, the SFI activists prepared a symbolic ‘grave’ as a gift for the principal of the Victoria College in Palakkad on her retirement. They bid farewell to the principal of Nehru Arts and Science College in Kasaragod, who retired in March this year, by putting up posters paying mock homage to her and bursting crackers.

The KSU leader said that the ABVP which entered campus politics of  late, had also started adopting same tactics. They also use violent methods to prevent others from entering the educational institutions they hold as their fiefdoms.

Abhijith said that the radical organisations like the CFI were taking advantage of the resentment among students against these highhanded methods to make inroads into colleges. A report in The New Indian Express said the CFI has been spreading its wings in colleges where there are no alternatives to the SFI.

The organisation, which was launched in 2009, has slowly crept into many colleges and become capable of physically eliminating its opponents in this short span of time, with physical and financial support extended by PFI, which is believed to be an amalgam of many radical Muslim outfits such as SIMI, NDF and SDPI.

The New Indian Express report, quoting a senior police official who investigated many cases related to extremist activities, said that PFI and SDPI were extending support to the CFI to expand their base with the help of lethal weapons which they have stored outside the campuses.

The PFI, which claims to champion the cause of Dalits, tribals as well as other religious, linguistic and cultural minorities, has been promoting the CFI with the aim of creating a neo-social student's movement to carve out a new generation of activists.

Jacob George, a senior journalist based at Thiruvananthapuram, said that these outfits were trying to reach out to the people by involving themselves in popular struggles. The two outfits were at the forefront in the people’s fight against land acquisition for GAIL pipe line in the northern districts, LNG terminal in Ernakulam and national highway expansion in Kozhikode.

Jacob told Firstpost that the militant methods these outfits used during the protests had weakened the struggles. The government had rejected the demands of the people involved in the protests against land acquisition citing the presence of the extremist elements in their ranks, he added.

The state government has been pressing for a ban on PFI in the wake of its involvement in a series of murders and extremist activities. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has probed several cases involving the PFI, has cited four cases to support the state government plea.

These relate to the chopping of a professor’s palm in Idukki district; holding of a training camp in Kannur from where NIA allegedly seized swords, country-made bombs and ingredients for making IEDs; murder of RSS leader Rudresh in Bengaluru and the Islamic State Al-Hindi module case in which attacks were plotted in south India.

The murder of the SFI activist in Ernakulam will strengthen the government plea further.

The state police are understood have unearthed several incriminatory materials against the organisation in a state-wide raid at offices of PFI and SDPI.

The police have taken four SDPI workers from Idukki district in custody in the raid in connection with the murder. The police had earlier arrested three persons directly involved in the attack. Apart from this, about 400 PFI-SDPI workers have been taken into preventive custody following the raid.

The state government will be submitting these materials to the Union home ministry for making a strong case for banning the PFI.

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Updated Date: Jul 05, 2018 20:58:35 IST

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