DYFI men attack anti-CPM environmentalist

via PNS | Kozhikode published on May 21, 2010

The Kerala Marxists on Friday came under fire from various corners following the brutal attack by DYFI activists on leading anti-CPI(M) environmentalist CR Neelakantan on late Thursday evening. Allegations were raised to the effect that the DYFI attack was as per the instructions of CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and that it was a sign of the CPI(M)’s growing intolerance towards criticisms.

The police on Friday morning arrested two persons for the attack on Neelakantan. Officials said all those involved in the attack had been identified and they would be arrested without delay. Neelakantan was attacked by about 30 DYFI men when he was speaking at a public function at Paleri, Perambra in Kozhikode district. Rights activists alleged that the Marxists had been maddened by the isolation they were facing from the people.

Neelakantan had enraged the CPI(M), especially secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and his supporters, with his campaigns over the Marxist leader’s alleged involvement in the Rs 374.5-crore SNC Lavalin corruption scandal and the several agitations he led against their policy of land acquisition for mega projects. The Pinarayi faction in the CPI(M) had even forced the Government to transfer Neelakantan from the Aroor office of State-run Keltron to Hyderabad.

Eye-witnesses said the DYFI activists had attacked the environmentalist asking whether he would dare make speeches against the CPI(M) in Perambra. They continued to kick and beat Neelakantan with chairs and mike-stand even after he fell on the stage, they said. The DYFI took out a demonstration in Perambra town after the incident. The environmentalist was first admitted to a local hospital but was later shifted to the Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode.

The attack on Neelakantan took place when he began to speak on “How Maoists are Born” at a seminar organized by a forum named Prathi Chintha (Counter-Thought) at Paleri, Perambra. As the environmentalist began to speak, a group of DYFI activists who had positioned themselves in the front-row chairs charged to the stage with bamboo rods and chairs to attack him. Neelakantan suffered serious injuries in the ribs and several other parts of his body.

At the hospital, Neelakantan said the DYFI activists had jumped on him and began the attack without caring to listen to what he had to say. “They were showing the fascist face of the CPI(M) in the worst manner,” he said. “It is quite possible that the content of and the terms in one’s speech could enrage some sections. But these people had begun to attack me even before I had started my speech,” he said.

Cultural leaders pointed out that the attack on Neelakantan was the latest example of the intolerance of the CPI(M) towards criticisms. They said there had been several instances of attacks against thinkers, writers and activists who opposed the CPI(M)’s neo-liberalist policies. “In Thrissur, writer Babu Kuzhimattam was threatened. In Payyannur, the DYFI nearly manhandled writer-journalist Paul Zacharia. There are several examples,” said Sudheer Babu, an environmentalist based in Kozhikode.

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