The incident of members of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) clashing with the police unfolded just before the scheduled commencement of the seminar on “The Contributions of Sree Narayana Gurudev, Chattambi Swamiji & Shubhananda Gurudev towards the Renaissance of Kerala.”
While Governor Khan enjoyed a peaceful time on the bustling street in Kozhikode earlier in the day on December 18, confrontations intensified at the university campus. Hundreds of SFI members reportedly entered the campus to disrupt the seminar. A scuffle ensued between the police and the SFI members, leading the police to resort to lathi-charge and make several arrests.
The clash centered around the aim of intimidating the Governor, with protesters clad in black attire raising black banners and flying black balloons. Their efforts to breach police barricades were thwarted, and the arrests were made to maintain order and ensure the smooth progression of the event.
The seminar, focusing on the significant contributions of Sree Narayana Gurudev, Chattambi Swamiji, and Shubhananda Gurudev to the renaissance of Kerala, proceeded amid heightened security measures. The disruption attempt underscores the ideological tensions within the university campus, particularly involving political affiliations and clashes between student groups.
But the governor inaugurated the seminar and addressed the peaceful gathering. Afterwards, he met the media before returning to the guest house. Then he drove to the airport and flew back to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city and the seat of the Raj Bhavan.
Interestingly, Vice Chancellor Dr MK Jayaraj, who was scheduled to preside the seminar, did not turn up; hence, Swami Chidanandapuri of Sanatana Dharma Peetam presided. It is to be remembered that Governor had summoned the VC on December 17 to the guest house and sought explanation for the undesired happenings in the campus. Then Raj Bhavan Secretary sought VC’s explanation too.
At Thiruvananthapuram airport, on arrival, Governor said that he would do the needful to bring discipline back to the campuses. He said he was answerable to the Rashtrapati alone. He said he is keen to invigorate the academic standard in higher education sector.
He told the media that SFI do not represent the entire student community in the state. He added that when he visited the Kozhikode market, there was no protest anywhere. The same was the situation when he went to attend the wedding of the Indian Union Muslim League leader’s son. On the other hand, people were all smiles to welcome him. He was indirectly hinting that protests took place only where the police provided security in advance.
He reminded the media that he had asked the State Police Chief to withdraw his additional security. He had told in Kozhikode that the defamatory banners were erected at the behest of CM Pinarayi Vijayan. When he was asked about his BJP links, Governor said that when he walked through the markers in Kozhikode, it was not BJP men who welcomed him and gave him halwa, but, ordinary people.
SFI has erected banners in Thiruvananthapuram. There is stringent security measures in the city since the governor has to drive from the airport to Raj Bhavan. The security has been beefed up in the wake of the leakage of the details of the Governor’s route when he returned from Delhi last week. However, SFI men had gathered at some places to wave black flags, but, they were stopped by the police by force.
Raj Bhavan also under heavy police protection. Reports suggest that black banners were erected in the presence of the police. Police had got information in advance that SFI would stage black flag demonstrations, but, there was no precautions from the police to avoid it. They did not remove the flags and banners.
In short, December 18 revealed to the people of Kerala that Dr Arif Mohammed Khan is a different sort of governor. He proved that he would not bow down before the violence of SFI or CPM.
Authorities are expected to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, and concerns persist regarding the need for maintaining a conducive environment for academic and public events.