Tuesday, March 5, 2024

4th attack in 3 weeks: Anti-govt protesters assaulted by CPI(M) mob during CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s statewide outreach program

“We were subjected to a brutal mob attack. They were in no mood to stop the assault. There are marks on my face, bruises all over my body, and visible injuries on the stomach, back, forearms, and shoulders. There are swellings on my eyebrows and head,” Rejaz added.

Repeating the alarming trend of CPI(M) mob attacks during the Nava Kerala Sadas, an outreach program by the left government in Kerala, a cohort of over 50 DYFI activists launched an assault on two activists who were protesting the police case filed against a freelance journalist over his report published on Maktoob.

This marks the fourth instance in which anti-government protesters have been brutally attacked by CPI(M) cadres, all transpiring in the presence of cops.

Despite the lack of action against the assailants, the police apprehended both Muhammed Haneen and Rejaz, who were engaged in protest. They were taken to the Ernakulam Central Police Station but were subsequently released.

Muhammad Haneen, Kerala State convenor of the Democratic Student Association (DSA), and Rejaz, a state committee member of DSA and a journalist, were protesting at the Nava Kerala Sadas venue against a Suo Moto police case filed against Rejaz for reporting a story for Maktoob. The story covered the alleged harassment of five Muslims by Kerala police during the investigation of the bomb blast at the Jehovah’s Witnesses convention in Kalamassery, Ernakulam district.

During the Nava Kerala Sadas at Marine Drive, Rejaz and Haneen planned to distribute pamphlets demanding the Kerala police dismiss the case against Rejaz. They also sought the return of Rejaz’s smartphone, which had been seized by the police as part of the investigation, aiming to halt the alleged atrocities committed by the state government against independent journalists.

“To make the deaf hear and to expose the double standards of the CPIM-led Kerala government, both of us reached the Nava Kerala Sadas happening in my constituency to distribute pamphlets and democratically mark our dissent,” Rejaz told Maktoob.

Rejaz and Haneen, waiting at the program venue, were approached by two police officers who reportedly tried to detain them. Both of them refused, threw the pamphlets in the air, and raised slogans such as ‘journalism is not a crime’ and ‘quash the FIR against journalist Rejaz.’

Suddenly, a group of at least 50 CPI(M) activists surrounded both of them and started beating them mercilessly reportedly in the presence of the Police.

Haneen told Maktoob that what he experienced was similar to the mob attacks in North India that he had read about in newspapers. “They kicked us using boots, and we fell to the ground. They continued hitting her belly with their boots. They punched our stomachs using vehicle keys. I received many blows to my head and shoulders. The attack continued for at least half an hour,” said Haneen.

“We were subjected to a brutal mob attack. They were in no mood to stop the assault. There are marks on my face, bruises all over my body, and visible injuries on the stomach, back, forearms, and shoulders. There are swellings on my eyebrows and head,” Rejaz added.

A video news report, published by Media One TV, clearly shows a group of the mob attacking both Rejaz and Haneen and shouting at people who were recording the attack on their smartphones.

Two police officers, who tried to save Rejaz and Haneen also got brutally beaten by the DYFI activists. ” The walkie-talkie of the police got broken. Annie Siva, a lady police who tried to save us later got admitted at the Ernakulam General Hospital,” said Rejaz.

Both of them were forcibly taken to the Ernakulam central police station, they alleged. Hearing the news, this reporter and many others contacted the police station but they denied the detention. “Nobody was brought here,” a police officer at the Central police station told Maktoob over the phone. Rejaz, later told Maktoob that he was overhearing police denying his detention, sitting inside the station.

Haneen alleged that the police took them to the general hospital in Ernakulam thirty minutes after, upon their request. The police officers admitted to the detention only after repeated phone calls. “We got to know that two people were taken to the hospital for medical examination,” the Police told over the phone later.

The police charged cases under section 117 (abetting commission of an offense by the public generally or by any number or class of persons exceeding ten) and later released them on station bail, alleged Niharika Beeja Pradaush, a DSA activist.

“A CPIM activist, who was talking over the phone at the venue, also got attacked by those goons along with us. They mistook him as one among us and brutally attacked,” Haneen said.

“The police detained him along with us but DYFI activists later came to the station to release them,” Haneen added.

Rejaz’s friends and family, who visited him at the police station alleged that both of them were brutally attacked by the DYFI activists in the presence of Kerala police at the Nava Kerala Sadas venue.

“Both of them were brutally beaten by DYFI activists. There are many visible injury marks on their bodies. Rejaz has numerous bruises on both hands; his shorts got torn by those assailants, and there are boot marks on his face. Similarly, Haneen told me that he is experiencing severe pain in his head and ribs,” said Niharika Beeja Pradaush, who visited the activists at the police station.

Although the police detained both activists, no cases were registered against the DYFI activists who attacked them at the Nava Kerala Sadas venue.

Following their release, both activists filed a case demanding action against the DYFI activists who attacked them.

“Since the inception of Nava Kerala Sadas, there are many incidents of physical violence unleashed by the CPIM and DYFI goons in many parts of the state,” alleged Niharika.

On Thursday, 6 December, two activists, MP Prasanth and Vipin Das of Sri Narayana Darsana Vedi, who held a black banner and raised slogans demanding the withdrawal of reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS), were allegedly attacked by CPIM activists during a Nava Kerala Sadas at Kodungalloor in Thrissur district. Both of them were admitted to Kodungalloor Taluk Government Hospital.

Similarly, on 7 December, activists of the Kerala Students Union (KSU), the student wing of the Congress party, were physically attacked by DYFI activists for protesting against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Nava Kerala Sadas at Angamaly in Ernakulam district.

Two journalists working with ‘The Fourth,’ who were recording footage of the attack, also allegedly got beaten by DYFI activists. Reporter Vishnu Prakash and cameraperson Mahin Jaffar sustained injuries in the incident. They were admitted to the Government Taluk Hospital, Aluva.

In a statement, the Ernakulam unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) asked political parties to rein in their workers. “Such incidents should not be repeated as we demand stringent action against those responsible,” it said.

On November 20, Youth Congress workers who staged a black flag protest against the chief minister’s Nava Kerala Sadas in Kannur were allegedly attacked by DYFI activists.

Responding to the attack, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that DYFI workers had saved a Congress worker from attempting a “suicidal act” by throwing himself in front of the bus ferrying the Cabinet. He further lauded DYFI activists for their bravery.

“The UDF workers were brutally attacked and CM’s security also attacked the youth Congress workers… The CM is the most cruel Home Minister in the state till now… The DGP should take action against these policemen…” Congress leader MM Hasan had said.

However, critics allege that the chief minister’s silent approval is fueling attacks against people who dissent. “The Nava Kerala Sadas is turning into a training ground for CPIM goons to practice mob attacks,” alleged Rejaz, on his way back from the police station.

Ashfaque EJ
Ashfaque EJ
Ashfaque EJ is an independent journalist from Kerala.
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