Kerala student death: Congress, IUML, AAP workers lay siege to Secretariat; cops deploy water cannons

The Kerala Students Union (KSU), had on Tuesday, led a march to the Secretariat, demanding justice and a CBI probe into Siddharth's death.

BySouth First Desk

Published Mar 06, 2024 | 5:12 PMUpdatedMar 06, 2024 | 5:12 PM

Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in Wayanad

The main gate of the Kerala Secretariat, in the heart of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, turned into a battle zone on Wednesday as workers from various organisations clashed with the police and protested against the recent death of Siddharthan JS, a 20-year-old student of the Kerala Veterinary University in Wayanad.

Workers of the Congress, its youth and women’s wings, students’ unit of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) marched to the Secretariat and laid siege to its gate in front of the MG Road.

Initially activists of the IUML’s student wing, the Muslim Students Federation (MSF), protested in front of the barricades set up in front of the secretariat and later proceeded to block half of the MG Road in front of it.

Also Read: Siddharthan was stripped, assaulted using a belt and wire, says remand report

Protestors face water cannons, lathis 

Soon, they were joined by the activists of the Youth Congress, the Mahila Congress, AAP workers and other protestors, many of them women, shouting slogans of “go back” directed at the police.

The protestors then clashed with the police personnel deployed there. As per visuals of the multi-organisation protest, police resorted to use of water cannons and lathis a few times to disperse the agitated crowd.

Many women were also seen climbing atop the barricades set up in front of the Secretariat’s main gate.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Kerala Students Union (KSU) led a protest march to the Secretariat as part of a statewide bandh, demanding justice and a thorough CBI probe into the circumstances leading to Siddharth’s death.

Also Read: Congress seeks CBI probe into death of student at Kerala Veterinary university

Varsity VC, college dean suspended

A second-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry student, Siddharthan was found hanging inside the Government Veterinary College’s hostel in Pookkode, sparking widespread outrage across the state.

Kerala Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan, as Chancellor of Universities in the state, had suspended the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof (Dr) MR Saseendranath, for negligence. A judicial probe was also ordered to look into the incident.

MK Narayanan, the Dean of the college and R Kanthanadhan, who was holding the position of the assistant warden of the men’s hostel, were also suspended, in connection with Siddharthan’s death.

Police had arrested all the 18 accused who have been remanded to judicial custody.

Also Read: Kerala student death: CM Pinarayi Vijayan orders SIT probe

Victim assaulted, starved before death

The remand report of the suspects has alleged that the victim was assaulted viciously.

While urging the court to avoid giving bail to the accused, the report submitted by the police on Sunday, 3 March, said that a belt and a cable wire were used to assault Sidharthan.

Police have charged the accused under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon), and 306 (Abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act.

The report said that his classmates and a senior held a public trial inside the hostel alleging that he had misbehaved with a female student of the college.

“He was stripped down to his underwear and the accused assaulted him. Some of them used a belt and a cable wire,” the report said. It said that the assault began on 16 February at around 9 pm and lasted till 2 am on 17 February.

Police urged the court not to give the accused bail as the parents of the deceased have demanded a full inquiry, claiming that the victim would not have killed himself.

The victim’s father contended that according to the postmortem report, his son’s body had three days’ worth of injuries and an empty stomach, which indicated that he was brutally beaten up and not given any food.

Allegations of severe harassment and physical torture allegedly from ragging have been raised against members of Student Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the ruling CPI(M).

Political tensions in the state escalated with both the Congress and the BJP accusing the SFI of beating Siddharthan to death. The SFI has however, denied the allegations.

(With PTI inputs)