Assembly to uproarious over teacher's death

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 21: The Kerala Assembly on Monday, July 21, witnessed uproarious scenes over the death of a school headmaster, who died after allegedly being beaten up during a violence at a cluster meeting of teachers in Malappuram on July 19.

The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) engaged in war of words during a submission on the issue. While the Opposition alleged that State Education Minister M A Baby was present in the inquest room when the post-mortem analysis was taking place, the ruling front accused the Opposition of trying to hide the facts by bringing in unnecessary issues.

Speaking on the submission, Mr P Jayarajan of CPI (M) said Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Oommen Chandy, who had warned of consequences if the textbook was not withdrawn, should bear the moral responsibility of the incident. He also alleged that the Opposition had unleashed attacks on cluster meetings across the state.

Mr P K Abdurub (Muslim League), who represents the constituency where the incident took place, said headmaster James Augustine fell unconscious near the school and was taken to a nearby hospital, where the doctor found him to be in a good condition. Augustine was then taken to the Baby Memorial Hospital in Kozhikode because he wanted to be taken there as he had undergone treatment at that hospital earlier.

On that day itself, even before the post-mortem report came, it was alleged that the Muslim Youth league activists had kicked or trampled the teacher, causing his death. He also alleged that Mr Baby was present at the inquest room in Kozhikode Medical College, where the post-mortem was conducted. ''The government was only trying to deviate people's attention from the textbook issue,'' he said and demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.

Replying to the submission, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said cases had been registered against five Muslim Youth League activists and Malappuram DYSP was investigating the case. He alleged that some Muslim Youth League activists had beaten and kicked Augustine near the school. He was taken to a nearby hospital from where he was then taken to the Baby Memorial Hospital in Kozhikode. He died on his way to the hospital. He also alleged that the Opposition was unleashing attacks against the cluster meetings of teachers across the state.

Mr Balakrishnan accused Mr Abdurub of justifying the killing by saying that the headmaster had collapsed and died. The Opposition's demand for a judicial inquiry was only to help the real culprits.

The Minister said the government would do whatever it could to help the family of the deceased. A decision in this regard would be taken in the next Cabinet meeting, he added. On the allegation that Mr Baby was present at the inquest room, he said such a thing had not happened.

Clarifying, Mr Baby said he was present at the Kozhikode Medical College and the Opposition was making a false statement regarding his presence in the inquest room. ''The media was there and I was sitting in an adjoining room. Many officials and political leaders were also with me,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Chandy said the government was taking decision on a preconceived notion. He also asked why the government could not conduct a judicial inquiry along with the present investigation.

At this Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said it was the Opposition which was having a preconceived notion. ''The Opposition was only trying to hide what almost all the newspapers and the members, who spoke here, had pointed out about the issue,'' he said and added that it showed that the Opposition was having a preconceived notion on the issue. The member from the constituency, where the incident took place was trying to establish that it was a normal death. He also said if there were any lapses in the present investigation, then it would be decided whether a judicial or CBI inquiry was needed.

UNI

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