The Criminalization of SFI

Justice (Retd.) P K Shamsudeen enquiry commission has submitted its report to the Kerala Governor and Chief Minister on the role of student bodies in perpetuating violence in government colleges in Kerala and confirmed the existence of ‘Idi muris’ (torture rooms) in many colleges across the state. The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-affiliated Students Federation of India (SFI) is primarily in the dock for monopolising campus politics in colleges like Maharajas College, Ernakulam, Government Arts College, Thiruvananthapuram and Government College Madappally (Kozhikode) with the aid of Left-affiliated Teachers’ Unions and faculties. The commission was constituted in the backdrop of a suicide attempt by a girl student in University College, Thiruvananthapuram. Weeks later, student leaders of the SFI had stabbed a 3rd year student Akhil, incidentally also of the SFI, bringing to focus the nefarious activities of the student body in the campus. Veteran journalist and ideologue Appukuttan Vallikkunnu writes on the criminalisation of SFI in this backdrop.

Democracy and dissent are trampled when a political party that works within the framework of democratic centralism tries to regiment its people using state power. It is this kind of despotism that made Communist Leader Stalin synonymous with the likes of Hitler and Mussolini. The disintegration of Soviet Union after seven decades also had its roots in it.

While assessing the repercussions of the disintegration of Soviet Union in the Socialist world, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) took a conscious decision at the Party Congress held at Chennai in 1992 to ensure internal democracy within the party at all levels. They even amended the Party Constitution to this effect. However, with the passage of time, the CPI (M) has metamorphosed into a party controlled by a clique. The criminalization afflicting the party and its feeder organizations today is also a result of this.

The recent incident of the stabbing of their own comrade by SFI student leaders of Thiruvananthapuram University College and the serious case of cheating in the examination held by Public Service Commission are correlated. The PSC had to disqualify Sivaranjith, Pranav and Naseem, who are SFI office bearers of University College and had secured the first, second and 28th rank in the PSC written examination for the recruitment of Civil Police Officers.

The incident has cast a shadow of distrust on the Kerala Public Service Commission and also on the Left Democratic Front government. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who came out strongly in support of the PSC asserting that certain vested interests in the media are trying to tarnish its image, has only earned the ire and mistrust from the public.

While holding the post of President, Secretary and other offices in the Students Union of the University College, these students had applied for the post of Civil Police Officers in the Kasargod Battalion, and had received the permission to appear for the written examination at Thiruvananthapuram. All three of them managed to get question papers with the same code. The answers for the questions where prompted to them via SMSes.

Following the outcry of the media against the accused SFI leaders finding a place in the top rank list, the PSC had conducted a vigilance enquiry and exonerated them in its preliminary report. It was only after the Police Cyber Cell handed over the phone records of the accused that the PSC was forced to take corrective steps. Since the leaders of the SFI themselves are the culprits, it needs to be investigated whether there is a larger conspiracy involved here. Such fraudulent activities and corruption cannot take place without political backing.

Earlier, a girl student of the University College had attempted suicide and had written a note accusing the SFI leaders of the college for not creating a congenial atmosphere for studies within the campus, apart from their targeted harassment. However, the CPI (M) and its mouthpiece Deshabimani had played it down and sought to project it as a witch-hunt by a section of the press against the SFI and the University College.

The lament of Sugathakumari, renowned poet and environmentalist, regarding this incident at her alma mater, should open the eyes of the CPI (M). “…even though there were strikes and protests, there was no bloodshed in the University College back in the day. None attempted suicide. Nobody was silenced in fear…Are these our children? Who trains them in the use of weapons? Who equips them for murder and assault? From where do they get the courage to steal the examination papers and prepare the University seals?”

Under this Government which is bent upon creating a ‘New Kerala’, there has been a series of political murders from Kasargod in the North to Thiruvananthapuram in the South, culminating in the ghastly incident at the University College. There is a thread of continuity in the despicable political crimes that are taking place in the State. There is a pattern—starting with the twin murder of Youth Congress activists Kripesh and Sarath Lal in Periya just prior to the Lok Sabha elections, the murder attempt against C O T Nazeer, an independent candidate from the Vadakara Lok Sabha constituency and the stabbing of Akhil at University College campus.

Since 2016, highhandedness and intimidation by the CPI (M) is a routine affair in government offices, colleges and even in the Left Democratic Front. William Shakespeare’s famous line from the play ‘Hamlet’, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, is most suited to describe the prevalent situation in the State of Kerala under Left Democratic Government’s rule, suffocating the public.

SFI, which raises slogans of ‘Freedom, Democracy, Socialism’ and eulogises martyrs from Che Guevara to Abhimanyu (the slain SFI student of Maharaja’s college), is now in the dock for the stabbing of Akhil, revealing the extreme state of decay and criminalization within the SFI.

The pathetic situation in which the SFI finds itself today reminds us of a story narrated by the legendary music director Salil Chowdhury to Kerala’s most popular film lyricist and poet Vayalar Rama Varma.  Relatives of a girl in West Bengal had gone to the village of the prospective groom to make enquires about him. A villager they meet say the boy is good except for his habit of chewing onions. But he adds it is not his regular habit to chew onions—he did so only when he consumed alcohol. The astonished relatives were then told that the boy did not consume alcohol daily, but only when he is let out of jail.

It would benefit the SFI leaders if they could lay their hands on the original version of this story written by Vayalar in Anweshanam. That would perhaps make them realize the long term political implications of their activities in the Thiruvananthapuram University College and the Public Service Commission examination fraud.

Translated by Sangita Harry; Edited by Anand Kochukudy

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