The 24-day-old PSC rank holders agitation for government jobs turned violent on Thursday.
Kerala Students Union (KSU) activists, voicing support for the striking rank holders, clashed with the police in front of the Secretariat. At least five law enforcers and several student activists were injured in the violence.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condemned the violence. KSU workers had attacked the police. They had singled out an officer for assault. However, the police had exercised maximum restraint, he said.
KSU State president K.M. Abhijith said Mr. Vijayan had tasked the police to unleash violence on KSU workers. Law enforcers without nameplates had targetted women activists.
The Congress appeared to have upped the ante in the conflict between the government and PSC rank holders. Youth Congress workers stormed the Senate Hall and disrupted an interview for Class IV university office assistants.
In Palakkad, KSU workers locked in the staff at the local PSC office. The police later freed them.
The Congress seemed determined to push the government to the negotiation table. Former Chief Minister Oomen Chandy said Mr. Vijayan should shed his vanity and engage the job-seekers in talks.
The administration has not displayed an interest in reconciliatory talks so far. However, DYFI leaders were in touch with the agitators to achieve detente.
The striking rank holders also found support from athletes who had qualified in vain for State government employment by winning national medals. Women medallists sheared off their locks while men tonsured their heads in protest against the “employment denial”. The sportspersons displayed their hard-won medals.
The Secretariat witnessed a tide of marches in support of the strikers. They included BSP and Youth Congress activists and an organisation for ASHA workers.
The CPI(M) State secretariat said the PSC ranker’s demand for reviving obsolete rank lists was legally untenable. Many had abandoned the unfeasible cause and allied with the government.
The remaining few should guard themselves against falling prey to the intrigues of Opposition parties intent on inciting violence to eclipse the administration’s governance record and put the LDF on the defensive. DYFI State president A. A. Rahim blamed the Youth Congress for the violence.