Protest against teacher’s death peaceful in Kerala

July 20th, 2008 - 7:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Kozhikode, July 20 (IANS) The dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala Sunday, to protest against the death of a teacher during an opposition agitation, passed off peacefully. The shutdown did not affect normal life as traffic was unaffected but commercial establishments remained closed in both the districts.

The teacher, James Augustine, 48, died Saturday allegedly after he suffered blows from opposition activists who tried to disrupt a teachers’ training programme at Kizhissery in Malappuram district. The opposition activists were agitating against the controversial Class 7 social science textbook, which they say propagates atheism and communist ideology.

Police officials in Malappuram investigating the teacher’s death said that they have taken six Muslim Youth League (MYL) activists into custody for interrogation.

The MYL, the youth wing of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), and the Youth Congress led the agitation Saturday, disrupting teachers training programme that was being conducted at various centres across the state.

James Augustine, headmaster of a school, was reportedly pushed and kicked by protesters who were preventing teachers from entering the school at Kizhissery, about 50 km from district headquarters of Malappuram, where he had gone to attend the training.

Following the death of James, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led LDF government and Left organisations have come out strongly against the opposition agitation. The Left government has been facing a wave of agitation over the textbook.

Left student organisations have called for an education shutdown Monday while various government employees’ unions said they will strike work to protest the death of the teacher.

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