Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) members staged a walkout from the Assembly on Thursday taking strong exception to what they termed the brutal police lathicharge on DYFI and AIYF workers agitating against pension age hike on Wednesday.

Seeking leave for an adjournment motion on the issue, V.S. Sunil Kumar (CPI) said the lathicharge was mostly unprovoked and particularly brutal which suggested that it was carried on instructions from the highest level of the government. The police personnel did not spare girls or physically challenged persons who were also part of the demonstrators who had joined the marches to the State Secretariat and district collectorates to register their protest against the government decision. Not even presspersons were spared by the policemen. The government appeared to have shown arrogance since it had won an Assembly byelection, he said.

Responding to the Opposition member's charges, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said there was no question of the government trying to suppress democratic dissent. Everybody had the freedom to express their dissent in a peaceful and democratic manner. However, when dissent turns violent, the police would have to act firmly. The agitation had turned violent in six districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam and Palakkad and had resulted in 48 police personnel and 134 agitators getting injured and public property worth Rs.17 lakh getting destroyed.

Mr. Chandy said he did not think that it was good for public persons to become arrogant. The moment a public person became arrogant, his descent would also begin, howsoever high a position he or she may occupy. The police would take action if there was violence, he added.

Taking exception to the stand taken by the government, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said there was no sufficient provocation for the police action against the youth agitators. The government had given the green signal for such brutal attack on the agitators which the Opposition could not condone, he said.