Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Assembly on Tuesday witnessed heated debate between ruling and opposition members over police lathicharge on the activists of Students Federation of India, during their protest march over delay in printing school textbooks.
CPI(M)-led LDF opposition alleged that the police action against the march by the students' wing of CPI(M), in which party MLA V Sivankutty along with a number of agitators and police personnel suffered injuries, was an attempt by the Congress-led UDF government to suppress democratic strikes using force.
Led by Opposition leader VS Achutanandan, they also staged a walkout over the issue after Speaker N Sakthan rejected their request for an adjournment motion, moved by CPI(M) MLA T V Rajesh.
Explaining the circumstances that had led to the lathicharge, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said police was "forced to resort to the extreme step" after agitators pelted stones at them and the march turned violent.
"Our government is very much considerate to students agitations for justifiable cause, but we are not supporting violent strikes. The agitators hurled granite and petrol bombs at police," he said, reminding the opposition that police personnel are also human beings.
The minister also expressed concern over the complaint that Sivankutty suffered knee injury.
"I am very much sad over the incident. But, it was not because of police action that he had suffered injury. All the news papers have reported that Sivankutty suffered the injury during the stone pelting of students," he said.
Moving the adjournment motion, Rajesh alleged that police had attacked "unarmed" students without any provocation.
"Sivankutty MLA was hit with a shield by police personnel. Other four LDF MLAs who went to the spot to control the agitators had a narrow escape from the police attack," he said.
Girls also suffered injuries in the "grenade attack" by police during the SFI agitation in Palakkad yesterday, Rajesh said.
Before staging a walkout, Achutanandan described the incident as "barbaric and unjustifiable".
He also said the students were agitating against the delay in getting school textbooks and nobody could find fault with their cause.
The SFI march, held in various parts of the state yesterday turned violent and police used lathies, tear gas shells and water cannons to chase away the agitators.