University College in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city once again became a battlefield on Friday with workers of opposing student unions belonging to Kerala Students Union (KSU) and the Students Federation of India (SFI) coming to blows. Tensions between both groups have been rising since the attack on a KSU worker, allegedly carried out by SFI activists, on Wednesday night. KSU State President KM Abhijith was reportedly beaten up by workers of the SFI on the road in front of the college.
This was followed by protests from both student outfits accusing each other of violence. The workers of both unions staged a sit-in protest on the road and raised slogans. The groups were protesting at a distance of just about 200 meters from each other, prompting the police to deploy a huge force to prevent further violence.
Nithin Raj, a student from the History Department, was beaten up by a group of students on Wednesday night. Nithin, who has been admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital, reportedly gave a statement to the police in which he named SFI worker Mahesh as the one who led the attack. A video of Mahesh threatening to kill Nithin before he was attacked has also been widely circulated. However, the SFI has denied any links to Mahesh.
On Friday, the KSU took out a march to the Secretariat, situated 500 meters away from the college, protesting the assault on Nithin. Following this, Abhijith held a press meet at the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) office, slamming the recent incidents of violence on campus. After the press meet, Abhijith went to the college, reportedly on information that one more KSU worker was being attacked and had had an altercation with a few SFI workers. He was soon mobbed by a group of students who beat him up, though the police on site managed to disperse the students.
By 6 pm, KSU workers once again staged protest with an injured Abhijith in their midst. In the meantime, SFI workers also began their protest. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala soon joined the KSU protest, accusing the police of backing the SFI.
“Let the society and the people who believe in democracy see all this. The situation is such that the police listens only to the SFI workers,” he said.