THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The inordinate delay in printing school textbooks and the police lathicharge on SFI activists during the protest march over the issue, in which V Sivankutty MLA was also injured, created ripples in the Assembly on Tuesday. Even as the Opposition alleged that the government was attempting to suppress democratic agitations using force and demanded a probe into the textbook fiasco, the government maintained that the police resorted to lathicharge after students pelted stones at them.
With Speaker denying permission for an adjournment motion over the issue, the Opposition staged walkout from the House. Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan was at his characteristic best, reminding Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala that times have changed and terming P K Abdu Rabb as the most irresponsible education minister the state has ever had.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said that the police had to resort to lathicharge after the march turned violent and the students pelted stones, petrol bombs, metal and concrete pieces at the police. “The government has a very sympathetic approach towards students’ agitations. But we cannot support violent agitations. They need to correct the perception that only those agitations that are violent will attract public attention,” he said. He reiterated that the Education Minister has assured that textbooks will be ready by July 20. “We agree that the textbooks should have been given on time. But such blatant act of violence on the road is not acceptable. The MG Road turned into a virtual battlefield for two hours,” he said and expressed his concern over V Sivankutty MLA sustaining injury during the skirmish. “I am saddened by the incident and has regret over the same. But he was injured in the stone pelting by the students,” he added.
Education Minister denied all charges levelled against him and reiterated that the books will be ready by July 20. Meanwhile, Speaker N Sakthan informed the House that a complaint has been received regarding the incident in which V Sivankutty was injured and that it was forwarded to Home Minister.
Earlier, the Opposition came down heavily on the government for attacking ‘unarmed’ students with grenades, tear gas and water cannons. Seeking leave for adjournment motion, T V Rajesh alleged that printing was deliberately delayed to get commission from private press owners. “What’s happening in Kerala is ‘league’lisation of education. Students’ agitations will become stronger in coming days,” he said, and challenged the government to declare a judicial probe into delay in text book printing.
Criticising the police action against students, Rajesh said the police have become a den of criminals. “The students were attacked without any provocation. Even MLAs are not safe,” he said referring to V Sivankutty MLA getting injured during the protest. Achuthanandan termed police action against the students as ‘barbaric’ and asked what’s wrong with students agitating against delay in getting textbooks on time.
Onam exams from September 7 to 15
The monitoring committee of the Quality Improvement Programme under the education department has decided to hold Onam examinations after the Onam vacation from September 7 to 15. The decision has to be approved by the government.