SFI men go berserk, attack scribes

via Pioneer News Service | Kottayam published on June 25, 2008

A march held by SFI to the district Colletorate here on Wednesday in protest against the violent struggles by KSU and Youth Congress ended in violence, with several persons, including three mediamen and a police officer sustaining injuries.

The SFI activists turned violent when they were about to reach the Baselios College after their return from the march. When the activists attacked KSU workers on the road, some mediamen, including those from Manorama News television, Malayala Manorama newspaper and Indiavision TV reached the spot to cover the development.

With this the ire of the SFI activists turned to the newsmen and they attacked Pradep Joseph, reporter of Manorama News, Malayala Manorama reporter Nishad Kurian and photographer Arun John. When Pradeep tried to escape by jumping in to a police jeep, he was dragged out and attacked. The activists also turned against Indiavision crew who were covering the incident.

Pradeep had reached the spot where a 50-strong SFI activists, returning from the collectorate march, was attacking a small group of KSU workers, and immediately the assailants turned against the TV reporter. Pradeep ran off the scene, climbed into a police jeep, but the young Marxists who chased him manhandled him inside the vehicle.

After that they dragged him out, trampled and beat him up. The police personnel who tried to prevent the attack also received some blows.

Arun and Nishad had reached the spot hearing about the attack on Pradeep and they also came under their attack. There were only four policemen on the spot when the marchers began the attack. Later, a huge police posse had to reach the spot to disperse the violent SFI activists.

As they were dispersing, they hurled stones at the office of Malayala Manorama. They broke window panes and damaged cars parked in the office compound. The injured had been admitted to the district hospital here. The attackers also snatched the camera from lensman Arun.

Eye-witnesses said there was no provocation for the attacks on both the KSU workers and the mediamen. They said there could have been a lapse on the part of the police authorities as they had failed to post more men on duty when more than 50 slogan-shouting student activists were moving towards the college. Employees at Malayala Manorama office said the stone-pelting also was without provocation.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that the District Superinten-dent of Police had already been asked to investigate the attack on mediamen in Kottayam. He said the Government was viewing such incidents including the one at Malappuram on Tuesday. Activists of Muslim Students’ Federation, the students’ wing of Muslim League, had attacked three mediamen during a DDE office march on Tuesday.

Sources in the Congress party suspected the attack on the KSU activists and scribes by SFI workers was part of a plan to intimidate those who were protesting against the Government’s intransigence in the matter of the controversial Social Studies textbook of Class VII, they said. They pointed out that the reported plan by the DYFI to constitute protection forces was to take on the protestors physically.

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