KOCHI: “Decide what type of country you want.” This was what CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury told students during the ‘Meet the leader’ programme organised at St Teresa’s College by former MP K V Thomas’ K Vidyadhanam Trust.Yechury, who fielded queries from students on various issues, said people need to learn to ask questions and not let others make decisions for them.“You can’t complain later,” said Yechury. “Look where the country is going. The Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). The Centre has said an all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) is now on the anvil. The CAB-NRC combo has serious constitutional and social implications for the country,” he said.
He said the Bill denied the rights of one very important religious minority. “This is against the Constitution which guarantees fundamental rights to all irrespective of caste, creed or religion,” said Yechury. He expressed hope people will rise against the Bill. “I believe the judiciary will rise to the occasion,” he added.
He said students were future intellectuals. “However, since intellectuals are like vegetables, they have to decide whether they need a chef to make them platable or do it themselves. Being moulded by someone is not healthy,” said Yechury.
‘Mob justice can never be encouraged’
On the Cyberabad encounter, in which four persons accused of raping and murdering a veterinarian were killed, Yechury said, “Mob justice can never be encouraged.”“The judiciary and government have to ensure that rape and molestation cases are dealt with at the earliest. However, in the country, the cases drag on with no judgment in sight. People lose patience and are forced to take law into their own hands. The Chief Justice of India needs to see to it that fast-track courts set up to expedite these cases are doing their jobs,” he said.
‘All states bound by law to implement UAPA’
On the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) which rocked the state recently, Yechury said, “Parliament has passed it and every state is bound by law to implement it. Of course, we can protest against it. However, the state government can’t refuse to take action under it.” He said the archaic Section 124 A of IPC under which sedition charges are imposed needs to be done away with. “It was something the British came up with to protect their government. We don’t need it,” he said.
Trip down memory lane
Coming to St Teresa’s College was a trip down the memory lane for Yechury. “It has been 30 years,” said Yechury, adding, “I was an SFI member and had come here for a meeting.”
‘Study and struggle’
On a question on student politics by Parvathy Rajeev, a student of St Joseph Teachers’ Training College here, Yechury said, “For campus politics to be democratic, students need to follow the ‘study and struggle’ motto. A student leader can never be only a politician. He is a student first. Cutting classes for political work will never make him a leader possessing a clear perspective of issues faced by his community,” he said.