ABVP activists lathicharged in capital

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 12. As many as 20 Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists, including four girls, were injured here today when police lobbed tear-gas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse nearly 300 activists who tried to force their way into the Secretariat demanding resignation of the Chief Minister, Mr. E. K. Nayanar, on the Plus Two issue.

The chain of events started at 12.15 noon when the ABVP activists, led by the State president, Mr. Unnikrishnan, jostled with the police cordon in front of the gates to gain access to the Secretariat.

The demonstrators started throwing stones from the rear ranks. Soon the police sounded the bugle, signaling the protesters to disperse. When it failed, the police fired two tear-gas shells. Stone-throwing continued and senior officials on the scene ordered the police to charge.

Mr. Unnikrishnan, ABVP State vice-president, Mr. Suresh, national council member, Ms. P. P. Sindhumol, Ms. Anjana Devi, Ms. Asha Devi and Ms. Sreedevi were among the activists felled by the lathi blows.

Policemen rained blows on the activists who tried to rush the fallen activists to hospital. Ms. Asha Devi and Ms. Sreedevi were surrounded and beaten up by policemen when they came to the rescue of Ms. Sindhumol.

When contacted, the Commissioner, Mr. K. Padmakumar, said as many as 15 policemen, including four women police officers, the Assistant Commandant of Police, Mr. Chandrabal, and the CI (Cantonment), Mr. Krishnan Nair, were injured in the violence. All were under medical care at the Peroorkada hospital.

Police said five government vehicles, including a KSRTC bus and vehicles owned by the Social Welfare and Civil Supplies Department, were damaged by ABVP activists near Vanchiyoor. They arrested 21 ABVP workers on charges of rioting and destruction of public property.

Later at a press conference, the ABVP State president said the organisation would boycott classes all over the state on Thursday to protest against the ``unprovoked'' action. He said the LDF Government was trying to crush the Plus Two agitation by unleashing the police against peaceful student demonstrators.

He said the police had singled out and attacked women ABVP activists who had conducted a public trial of the Chief Minister, Mr. E. K. Nayanar, on the Plus Two issue in front of the Secretariat on Tuesday.

He said the police had also not spared students who tried to rush their fallen comrades to the hospital. As many as eight ABVP activists had sustained serious head injuries in the lathicharge and were under supervision at the Medical College Hospital, he said.

Meanwhile, a tense situation prevailed in the city this evening with persons, suspected to be ABVP activists, stoning KSRTC buses and police vehicles. A KSRTC-owned double decker bus was attacked with stones and sticks by a group of persons in front of the Ayurveda college. Similar attacks were carried out against police patrol vehicles in different parts of the city. Police did not allow traffic through the arterial M.G. Road for nearly an hour in the evening.

Scores of Yuva Morcha workers staged a dharna in front of the Secretariat condemning the police action and demanding suspension of the officials who ordered the lathicharge.