LDF walkout over police action

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM July 26. Members of the Opposition LDF staged a walkout from the Kerala Assembly today to protest against the lathicharge on SFI activists in Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad and Kozhikode on Thursday.

The Opposition members left the House accusing the Government of having unleashed the police on the students to divert public attention from the controversy over misappropriation of Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) funds. However, the Government made it clear that it would not spare anyone who indulged in violence and that it did not regret the lathicharge on students who had attacked the police and destroyed public property.

Opposing an adjournment motion on the subject, sought to be moved by Kodiyeri Balakrishnan (CPI-M) and others, the Finance Minister, K. Sankaranarayanan, said the police had to resort to lathicharge and burst teargas shells to disperse the agitating students who pelted stones and petrol bombs at the police and were on the verge of clashing with activists of other organisations staging a sit-in before the Secretariat. He said the police had arrested 14 student activists and charged six cases under the Explosives Act and for destruction of public property. They were later admitted to the Medical College Hospital. At all the three places where the police and the students came into conflict, the students had tried to break the police cordon and indulged in violence. Among those injured were several policemen, including an SAP commandant. The Government does not wish to deny that the police resorted to lathicharge. But such measures would become necessary if violence on such scale erupted, he said.

Seeking leave for the motion, Mr. Balakrishnan said the police lathicharge in Thiruvananthapuram was of a kind not witnessed in recent times. He also accused the police of having framed the students and wanted to know how cases for destruction of public property could be charged against them when there was no incident of destruction of public property before the Secretariat.

Mr. Sankaranarayanan said throwing of petrol bombs could not by any stretch of imagination be deemed a peaceful agitational form. He pointed out that even a vehicle in which a former SFI leader was travelling had come under attack. The Government could not permit destruction of public property and it would not go back on its duty.

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