The Kerala Police have taken action against the State President of the Students' Federation of India (SFI), K Anusree, and eight others for their alleged involvement in a provocative act. The group is accused of burning a 30ft tall effigy of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan using petrol at Payyambalam beach on Sunday evening.
Unlawful assembly and rioting charges
The Kannur town police, acting independently, registered a case against the student activists under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting), and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible). The incident occurred on the eve of the New Year when Anusree set ablaze the effigy bearing the likeness of Governor Khan, while fellow SFI members raised slogans.
The SFI has justified the protest, claiming it was organized against the nomination of Hindu right-wing activists to university senates in the state by Governor Khan, who serves as the chancellor of universities. The group accuses the Governor of "communalising" the state's education sector.
Ongoing verbal disputes
This incident has added fuel to the ongoing verbal disputes between Governor Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and the SFI. The disagreement revolves around the appointments made by Khan to the senate of some universities in the state. Governor Khan argues that he is being targeted because the state government and the SFI have lost control over the universities, citing a recent Supreme Court order quashing the reappointment of Gopinath Ravindran as the Vice-Chancellor of Kannur University. The case against the student activists reflects the heightened tensions surrounding these issues.
(Inputs from PTI)