With the Aishwarya Kerala Yatra led by Ramesh Chennithala – Kerala’s Leader of Opposition and Congress leader – set to conclude at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Students Union (KSU), the student wing of the Congress party, and the Youth Congress have been accused of resorting to violent protests in the state capital. The state-wide yatra ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state had begun on January 31 from Kasargod.
The Congress and the United Democratic Front have (UDF) persisted in their attacks on the state government since the yatra began over the protests by Public Service Commission (PSC) rank holders in Thiruvananthapuram. Members of the youth Congress and KSU-backed youth began protests at various centres across the state, including the capital, demanding government jobs. The protesting youth said they had been denied employment opportunities though they were included in the state PSC rank list.
On Monday, ahead of concluding his yatra, Chennithala visited the protest venue.
Last Thursday, just few days ahead of the culimination of the Aishwarya Kerala Yatra in Thiruvanathapuram, a march by the workers of the KSU in solidarity with the protesting rank holders saw some violence.
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The KSU’s state president, secretary and vice-president, along with others, were reportedly injured in the violence allegedly initiated by them. Though the KSU claims that its state vice-president Sneha Nair had been injured in the police lathi-charge, videos from the protest site appear to show that she was allegedly injured by fellow protesters.
Some reports mention that the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) has an agreement in place to extend the strike until Congree leader Rahul Gandhi arrives to attend the conclusion of the yatra in Thiruvananthapuram on February 23. As per the report, KPCC plans to take the protest to the national level after Rahul Gandhi’s visit.
Congress supporters have urged its party leaders to not compromise if the government negotiates with job seekers. KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran and Youth Congress president Shafi Parampil are reportedly behind this move.
According a report, Chennithala attended a meeting of UDF PSC rank holders. Intelligence reports allege there was a “conspiracy to foment violence” under the cover of the strike. According to intelligence reports, people from various districts had been meeting in Thiruvananthapuram for the past few days. They attended the Secretariat March in black shirts. The plan was to provoke the police. However, the police cordoned off the area.
Case against 13 KSU leaders
Meanwhile, a case has been registered against 13 KSU leaders under non-bailable sections for allegedly attacking police personnel and causing violence in the state capital on Thursday. They have been charged with assaulting a police officer, obstruction of work and violating the Epidemic Diseases Act. KSU state president K.M. Abhijit, state general secretary Sabeel, secretary Bahul Krishna and district office bearers allegedly led the attack. The KSU activists reportedly went into hiding after police action.