Congress-led Kerala opposition stages walk out from assembly

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led opposition on Tuesday staged its first walkout in the Kerala assembly to protest the alleged high-handedness of CPI-M workers towards two Dalit women in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's hometown and also the "callous" attitude of the police. After Vijayan assumed office last month, Tuesday was the first full day of the assembly session where legislative business was listed. Leading the walkout, leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala criticised the manner in which Vijayan reacted to the issue of the two Dalit siblings, Akhila and Anjana, who were falsely implicated in a trespassing case and jailed early this month. Akhila's 18-month baby is along with her in Kannur jail. "The Chief Minister's first reaction to this inhuman incident was he's not aware, then came his next reaction, ask the police, and then he said that it's not the first time an 18-month along with her mother was sent to jail. This clearly shows the attitude of this government towards the Dalits. The entire approach was callous and the police was dancing to the tunes of the political leadership," alleged Chennithala as he led the opposition out of the house. The incident took place at a village near Thalassery where the Dalit family of Rajan, a local Congress leader, has been under frequent attack from the local Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) workers. Senior Congress legislator K.C. Joseph, who sought leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue, said the two siblings fed up by the insinuations of the local CPI-M leadership went to question this at the area CPI-M office. Following this, the police arrested them on June 17 and produced them before a magistrate who sent the two and the baby to Kannur jail. "The arrest was recorded against the apex court's guidelines and the magistrate also did not do a fair job. The next day, the two women got bail. The same night Anjana was humiliated by two leaders of the party when she took part in a TV channel debate, and pained by the remarks, she attempted suicide at her home. Later, she was taken to a hospital. This is the inhuman way the CPI-M is acting and the police are being used as a tool," said Joseph. In reply, Vijayan said there have been three different cases that have been cited by the neighbours, including two relatives of Rajan and his family. "On each occasion the police had to intervene to settle, so this clearly indicates the stature of this particular family and their deeds. The 18- month-old child was given by the father himself to the mother just before she was taken to jail. We assure that there will be nothing done against the Dalits in the state and they will be safe and sound when we are in office," assured Vijayan. His statement was greeted by the thumping of desks by the treasury benches.