Thiruvananthapuram, April 6 (IANS) Support is pouring in for the hapless Kerala mother who arrived in the state capital on Wednesday seeking justice after the death of her son but was roughed up by the police.
The state on Thursday witnessed a total shutdown following a call given by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in a show of solidarity with the unfortunate mother.
Mahija, the bereaved mother, claims her son — Jishnu Prannoy — was “killed” by his college authorities, including the college Chairman Krishnadas and some others, all of whom are now out on bail.
Prannoy was found hanging in January in the campus of the Nehru College of Engineering and Research, a private college in Thrissur. Initially it was dismissed as a case of suicide, but following Mahija’s strong protest, the police have taken up the case again.
Attendance in offices across the state was poor and shops and market places remained closed. The state-owned and private transport services did not operate their services as also the taxi and three-wheeler operators.
Expressing their support for Mahija and protesting against the “inhuman attitude” of the police as well as the Pinarayi Vijayan government, angry UDF and BJP workers took to the streets across the state and shouted slogans.
Mahija, who hails from Kozhikode, arrived with her husband and a dozen of their close relatives to sit in protest before the office of the state police chief, but they were allegedly dragged and humiliated by the police and, in the melee, she got injured and is now in a hospital, where she and the rest decided to undertake an indefinite fast.
State police chief Loknath Behra told reporters on Thursday that he would definitely meet Mahija and talk to her.
But Mahija, who will have to spend another day at the hospital as she has suffered an injury in her stomach, said they would meet the police chief but before that action should be taken against the police officials who roughed them up “for no reason”.
The day also saw Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asking Chief Minister Vijayan to apologise to Mahija for all that has happened to them.
State Congress President M.M. Hassan said: “It’s time the state police chief is ousted as he has failed on all counts.”
Former state Congress chief V.M. Sudheeran said what happened on Wednesday “is a shame for Kerala”.
“The saddest part is that even after 24 hours of this incident, the only person who has defended the act is Vijayan and it’s a real shame,” said Sudheeran.
Former Chief Minister and party colleague of Vijayan, V.S. Achuthanandan, called up the family of Mahija and expressed his full support in their demand and told her to contact him for any kind of help at any time.
Vijayan’s party’s politburo colleague M.A. Baby in his Facebook post noted that it was most unfortunate that this happened to Mahija and that it was the work of those “who do not know what the police policy of the Left government is”.
CPI state Secretary Kanam Rajendran said that had the police chief gone out and met Mahija and found out from her what she required, the ongoing brickbatting would have turned into exchange of bouquets.
“There was a lack of common sense,” said Rajendran.
Mahija’s daughter, Avishna, told the media at their home that she would be going on an indefinite fast till her mother returned from the state capital.
“Now I feel I am more angry against the police who roughed up my mother and others than the college Chairman. I have decided to go on a hunger strike till my mother returns,” said Avishna.
This issue surfaced in Parliament too, when Congress lawmakers from Kerala staged a protest in the House demanding justice for Mahija.