Chaos in Kerala assembly over teacher’s death

July 21st, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, July 21 (IANS) The Kerala assembly Monday witnessed chaotic scenes as the government and opposition traded charges over the death of 48-year-old school teacher James Augustine, who was allegedly killed by opposition activists. Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Augustine died after being kicked by opposition youth activists who tried to disrupt a teachers’ training programme at Kizhissery in Malappuram district Friday.

“He was declared dead at a private hospital where he was sent from a small hospital near his school. Police have registered a case against five workers of the Youth League (the student wing of the Indian Union Muslim League). We will ensure that adequate compensation is given to the family of the deceased,” said Balakrishnan.

The IUML is an ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front. Abdu Rabb, in whose constituency the incident took place, said the teacher fell down unconscious near the school.

Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said: “We are concerned about the manner in which the government is celebrating the death of a teacher. According to media reports, Education Minister M.A. Baby was present during the post mortem of the teacher’s body at Kozhikode Medical College although only doctors are authorised to be there,” said Chandy.

The opposition was on its feet, demanding a judicial probe. Finally, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan announced that since the police were investigating the case, the assembly should wait for their report.

“Once the report comes, we can discuss whether a judicial or a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe is necessary,” he said.

Educational institutions across Kerala remained closed Monday as Left wing student organisations and teachers bodies called for a shutdown to protest Augustine’s death.

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