Born in a tribal family in Vattavada village in Kerala’s Idukki district, he came to the city to pursue his degree with the aspiration of becoming a scientist. An office-bearer of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), he was active with the movement even as he was doing his second year BSc Chemistry in the reputed Maharaja’s College in Ernakulam. All his dreams ended when he was stabbed to death by assailants owing allegiance to SDPI’s Campus Front of India on July 2, 2018.
Twenty-year-old Abhimanyu was murdered apparently over a rivalry between the student outfits relating to putting up posters to receive the new batch of students. The life of the young political leader, who would reportedly be seen singing old Malayalam songs along the college corridors, was thus cut short by the violence-tinged campus politics of Kerala.
Abhimanyu became another pawn in the struggle for political dominance in the campuses of Kerala and a “martyr” of the CPI(M) which is now in power in the state. Further, his death, like the assault on Professor TJ Joseph on July 4, 2010 by assailants owing allegiance to the Popular Front of India, was a reminder of the imminent threat of “minority communalism” in Kerala.
On Abhimanyu’s third death anniversary on Friday, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member MA Baby took to Facebook to pay a moving tribute to the slain comrade and remind everyone about the need to vehemently oppose all sorts of communal politics. Baby recalled that Abhimanyu, the son of a poor plantation worker, had left the one-room house in his remote village to pursue his studies carrying with him the dreams of a whole village. But his life was cut short by communal elements. It was Abhimanyu’s dream to complete his education and help everyone. The party is now helping to fulfil his dreams, Baby noted.
Read: Late CPI(M) leader Simon Britto’s memoir unfurls the dreadful night of Abhimanyu’s murder
A two-storey memorial built at a cost of nearly Rs 2.75 crore on six cents of land at Kaloor in Ernakulam with the facility to accommodate and provide training to around 30 students, predominantly from the tribal community, is one of the better ways the party has chosen to remember Abhimanyu. The CPI(M) had raised a sum of Rs 3.25 crore for fulfilling Abhimanyu’s dreams. Part of the fund went into a trust that will take care of providing pension to his parents while the rest was utilised for the study centre.
The memorial was inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in December last year. The event was attended by the slain student leader’s parents, Bhoopathi and Manoharan. The CM described Abhimanyu as a “warrior” who resisted communal politics and stood by his ideology. The library inaugurated by the CM along with the memorial in December last has nearly 50,000 books now. According to P Ramaraj, president of the library, over 49,000 books have been received from donors. “We have English, Malayalam and Tamil books on various subjects, besides fiction,” Ramaraj said.
Owing to restrictions forced by the pandemic, the study centre which also comprises a library has not started functioning yet. It may take a few more months for the centre to become operational, Amal CS, SFI’s Ernakulam district secretary, told TNM.
“The memorial has lodging facility for around 30 students who can stay and pursue online courses offered by universities abroad, career development courses, and diploma courses offered by IITs,” Amal said.
As a part of an event held in Ernakulam on Friday, mobile phones were distributed to 300 tribal students to help them attend online classes. The SFI is also opening libraries in rural areas in memory of Abhimanyu. Meanwhile, in Abhimanyu’s village, a memorial stupa named after the student leader was inaugurated on Friday, said KK Jayachandran, CPI(M) Idukki district secretary.
Moreover, since Vattavada is a remote village, the candidates appearing for PSC tests did not have any coaching centres. Presently, a coaching centre catering to around 27 candidates has been opened. The students get online coaching from teachers in Ernakulam, Jayachandran said.
KV Sasi, a district secretariat member of the CPI(M), recalled that the party had constructed a house for Abhimanyu’s parents, provided financial assistance during his sister’s wedding, and arranged a temporary job for his brother Parijith in a co-operative bank.
Parijith affirmed that the party is supporting the family in all ways. He has become a party member now. In response to a query, he said that it is everyone’s wish that tragedies like what happened to Abhimanyu should not recur.