Centre extends Z+ security to Kerala Guv after SFI black flag protest

Arif Khan got out of his car, took on the agitating members of the Students Federation of India and sat on the roadside demanding police action against the activists of the CPI-M-affiliated outfit for staging a black flag protest against him.
Arif Mohammed Khan stages a sit-in protest at a tea shop at Nilamel against the police's alleged failure in preventing black flag protests by the Students Federation of India.
Arif Mohammed Khan stages a sit-in protest at a tea shop at Nilamel against the police's alleged failure in preventing black flag protests by the Students Federation of India.

Thiruvananthapuram/Kollam | High drama played out in Kollam district of Kerala on Saturday when State Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, facing SFI's black flag protest, got out of his car, took on the agitating Left student wing members, sat on the roadside and hit out at the Chief Minister in what seemed to be yet another chapter in the Raj Bhavan vs the ruling LDF face-off.

Meanwhile, the Centre on Saturday extended Z+ security cover to Khan, who lashed out at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for "promoting lawlessness" and said that as head of the state "lawlessness shall not be tolerated" by him.

Khan, later in the evening, said that he "never asked for any additional security cover" and the Central government took that decision probably because of "lack of confidence in the state government".

He also said that when power goes to someone's head, they think they are above the law.

"That seems to be the case (here) as far as my feelings are concerned. You are vested with authority for a brief period of time. Democracy does not make me the ultimate arbiter. The ultimate arbiters are the common people," he said speaking to reporters in the state capital.

He also termed the SFI activists as "a bunch of hoodlums" and said that he does not want to respond to them.

In the morning, a visibly irked Khan, on his way to Kottarakkara for an event, got out of his car at Nilamel, took on the agitating members of the Students Federation of India and sat on the roadside demanding police action against the activists of the CPI-M-affiliated SFI for staging a black flag protest against him.

While the BJP threw its weight behind Khan, State General Education Minister V Sivankutty said that no Governor of any state in the country has behaved in this manner.

The Congress-led UDF on the other hand said that this was all part of the ongoing political drama of the state government and the Governor.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan said the Left government was showing double standards as no one was allowed to protest against the CM, but protestors were being sent by them to agitate against the Governor.

Khan was of the view that the "attacks" against him were being organised "to divert attention from the Left government's failures and provoke some drastic action (from him)".

"I am not going to oblige them," he said.

The Governor also termed the SFI activists as "goondas" and "daily wagers" of the Marxist veteran and the Left party.

"You go and show black flag, hit the car, come back and take your payment," he said.

After sitting on the roadside for nearly two hours, Khan left the place only after the police showed him a copy of the FIR registered against 17 SFI activists under non-bailable provisions of the law.

The dramatic scenes were witnessed at Nilamel in Kollam, located about 40 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

Less than an hour after what happened in Nilamel, the Ministry of Home Affairs extended Z+ security cover of CRPF personnel to Khan.

"Union Home Ministry has informed Kerala Raj Bhavan that Z+ Security cover of CRPF is being extended to Hon'ble Governor and Kerala Raj Bhavan," a post, on the Governor's X handle and Facebook page, said.

By evening, a 20 to 30 personnel-strong CRPF unit arrived at the Raj Bhavan and took over the security arrangements, according to official sources.

Subsequently, Khan attended a function in the evening in the state capital under his enhanced security cover and later met with reporters and told them -- "I got out when I saw something hit the glass of my car. I believe it was one of the rods used to carry the black flags."

He then left for the Thiruvananthapuram airport from where he travelled to Bengaluru.

At Nilamel in the morning, Khan said that he has no problems with protests as long as the black flags are waved from afar.

"But why hit my car? I had said earlier in Thiruvananthapuram that if you hit my car, I will get down. They hit my car today," he alleged.

He further questioned whether protestors would be allowed to line up on the roadside if the CM was travelling along that route.

"What treatment was meted out by the police to those who came near the bus of the Kerala sadas?" he asked.

He also asked why the police were not able to remove the protestors if they were only 17 in number as per the FIR, especially when there were much more police personnel on duty.

The Governor, while on his way from Thiruvananthapuram to attend a programme in Kottarakkara here, saw SFI protestors on the roadside near Nilamel waving black flags and banners, stating "Sanghi Chancellor go back" -- at him.

Khan ordered his vehicle to be stopped, got out and walked towards the SFI activists, shouting "aao" (come) at them.

As he rushed towards the protestors shouting at them, the police personnel deployed there acted as a barrier between him and the SFI workers who kept yelling slogans at Khan.

After the police removed the protestors from the area, Khan took a chair from a shop on the busy MC Road and sat down there demanding action against the agitators.

When reporters later asked Khan if he had staged a protest, he said it was not so.

"This is not any protest. Why should I protest? Why will I protest? I can take action. I was waiting for the FIR copy to come," Khan said.

Coming to Khan's defence, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan told reporters that the situation "clearly indicates" that the Home Department and Vijayan, who heads it, have failed to discharge their Constitutional duties.

Sivankutty, on the other hand, termed the incident as the "fourth show" of the Governor in the last month.

Khan and the Left government have been at loggerheads over several issues, primarily about the functioning of universities in the state and his non-signing of certain bills passed by the Assembly.

Amid the face-off, on Thursday, the Governor had finished his customary policy address to the Kerala Assembly within two minutes, reading out only the last paragraph.

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