The Students' Federation of India (SFI), the largest student organisation in the world with a membership crossing 400,000, is under the scanner in the wake of a series of violent incidents at the University College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. A student named Akhil was stabbed by the SFI unit committee leaders, and the victim is now apparently battling death after undergoing an open heart surgery.
So, what made SFI leaders commit such a dreaded act? The reason is shocking -- Akhil and his friends sang songs at the college canteen. As per reports in regional media outlets, the unit committee of SFI in the University College is controlled by a cluster of goons, who literally rule the campus using their muscle power and political influence. Witness testimonials reveal that top SFI leaders in the campus named Naseem Munna and Sivarenjith stabbed Akhil, and both of them are still at large, most probably under the shelter of CPI(M) led Pinarayi Vijayan government.
Why does Kerala police protect student criminals?
After the bloodshed executed by SFI leaders, the majority of the students studying in the University College conducted protests demanding the arrest of the culprits. But Kerala Police, captained by DGP Loknath Behra and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, continued remaining was unmoved. The police did not act even after spotting the culprits in the student's centre.
Students in the University College allege that SFI is running a parallel administration within the campus, and no authorities including the teachers of the institution have any rights to question them. After the stabbing incident, several media outlets approached the principal of the college for comments, but he intentionally diverted their queries and revealed that he was busy with the admission works of the new batch.
It should be noted that Naseem, the prime accused in this stabbing case, was also involved in assaulting a police officer in broad daylight a few months back. Even after destroying the morale of the entire police force in the state, Naseem roamed freely in the University college campus, and no authorities dared to arrest him.
An SFI leader who this author spoke to revealed that the activities of Naseem are a shame to the entire organisation. As per this student leader, who wishes to stay anonymous, Naseem has a proven track record of crime, and it is the responsibility of the Kerala police force and home minister Pinarayi Vijayan to arrest the culprits without delay.
"I know Naseem very personally for many years. These people are literally acting like goons. But it is not wise to blame SFI for a heinous act committed by one or two people. I believe this Naseem has been in the college for more than ten years now, and he is repeatedly getting readmission. My request is to the Kerala police and honorable home minister Pinarayi Vijayan, please arrest the culprits," said the SFI leader.
It should be also noted that the same Sivaranjith and Naseem, who are involved in the stabbing case, have received Rank No.01 and 28, respectively, in the Kerala civil police officer selection test. Student organizations like KSU and ABVP allege that these criminals have used their influence in Kerala Public Service Commission (KPSC) to grab the top ranks. Adding credibility to these claims, police recently seized University answer papers from Sivaranjith's house.
SFI emerging as ultimate face of fascism?
The Students' Federation of India was once the most reputed and widely accepted student organizations in the nation, and they have contributed a lot to Kerala politics. It should be noted that prominent CPI(M) leaders including MA Baby, MB Rajesh, PK Biju, and M Swaraj have learned the basics of politics through this student organisation.
However, in the course of time, the clutches of fascism gripped the leadership of SFI. As their dominance in Kerala campuses became unquestionable, they slowly started attacking other student organisations like AISF, KSU and ABVP. In several Kerala colleges, SFI does not give other student organisations the freedom to conduct their activities -- a clear violation of their ideology 'Freedom, Democracy and Socialism'.
In a lengthy interview carried by the Malayala Manorama on Monday, the State Secretary of the Leftist student organisation All India Students' Federation (AISF) lashed out at the SFI for the series of physical attacks and brazen intimidation its leaders faced at the hands of the SFI. The office bearer said SFI believes in oppression of all political activities of rival organisations in Kerala's campuses, a clear sign of the fascist tendencies. Even the AISF, which is the student's wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI), a ruling coalition member, is not spared as the unchallenged SFI wants to ride roughshod over all other voices in the campuses.
The authoritarian streak showed its worst form last week when the SFI leadership attempted to murder one of its own members for questioning the leadership. If SFI continues this bloodshed and rights violations in Kerala's campuses, their iconic white flag will soon get drenched in red, and people will forget the Left ideologies once upheld by its legendary comrades in the past.
(The author is a former member of SFI; views are personal)