Kochi: The knifing of SFI leader Abhimanyu on the Maharaja's College campus has shorn the institution of its cheerful and romantic hue that students often hold in awe. Following the shocking political murder of SFI leader Abhimanyu on Sunday, the city college has become a deserted place, torn apart by political ideologies.
Nevertheless, the students of the college, regardless of their political identities, are in all praise of Abhimanyu. Onmanorama caught up with the students of the college to know the intensity of political turbulence.
KSU leader's take
For Jibin, a Kerala Students Union (KSU) leader and undergraduate student at the college, Abhimanyu was less of a political rival and more of a supportive companion. “We (KSU) had organized an entertainment program for special children at Subash Park, Ernakulam, a couple of months ago. The number of participants were so high that we couldn't manage by ourselves. I called Abhimanyu and asked for help. He, being the secretary of the National Service Scheme (NSS) unit in college, came with his unit members and helped in crowd management. He sang several songs in the gathering and had casual conversations with the children assembled there. I'm sure, they wouldn't forget him even if they forget the ones who actually organized the program,” Jibin says. (KSU is the student wing of the Congress).
'A random pick'
Nimisha, a law student and All-India Students Federation (AISF) leader at Maharaja's College, remembers him for his soothing voice, beaming smile and strong political views. “I have never seen an SFI worker like him. His beaming smile would light up every strike location. I started noticing him after his song on love went viral on Facebook. Abhimanyu graced the campus with his short speeches full of well-reasoned political views, typical Keralite attire and music that soothed every gathering," Nimisha said. (AISF is the student organisation of the CPI).
Nimisha opined that Abhimanyu's murder was a random pick by the extremists, intended to increase the number of heads they felled. “He was never an SFI leader alone. Abhimanyu was everywhere on and off the campus. There is literally no reason to target and kill him for the politics he propagated. They would have randomly picked an SFI activist to create tension,” Nimisha said.
Mohammed Rashid, Abhimanyu's friend and hostel-mate, remembers him as a prospective political leader with clear strategies to develop his village in Vattavada, Idukki. “Abhimanyu was the only one who cleared the higher secondary exams in the school he studied that year. He once told me that there were no teachers for four of six subjects in his school. Abhimanyu passed his plus two exams in his second go. He said several times that it had been his long-term dream to be on this campus and he shall survive all the winds blowing against him,” Rashid said. 'My growth would be stunted hadn't I reached this space. I have to earn a job, support my family, plan better for my school and make my village a better place. Politics is one of my paths towards it,' Rashid recollected Abhimanyu as saying.
Rashid said Abhimanyu had formed a group of students to train children in his village. “He called it an 'expert study circle' through which the upcoming generation of his village got better exposure to the world outside,” Rashid said.
Maharaja's will never be the same
“I get a sight of that glorious campus through the window of my hostel room. I used to gleam at the campus nostalgically till yesterday. Today, the deserted yet turbulent sight of that academic space scares me. Maharaja's will never be the same,” Nimisha says. “Its political conscience is never too naive to start a usual, peaceful life post reopening. There is fear, anguish and pain everywhere.”
Jibin and Rashid are among the very few students who still inhabit the college hostel where the murder took place. Commenting on the incident that shook entire student community in Kerala, Rashid says the SFI and the Campus Front had never been in direct or indirect conflict in Maharaja's. “There where only four Campus Front workers on our campus and we all used to mingle freely with one another. I'm not sure whether that harmony would prevail post college reopening,” he added.