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Updated January 29th, 2024 at 13:57 IST

Kerala Assembly in Turmoil as Opposition Boycotts Session Over Disabled Man's Suicide

The Kerala Assembly witnesses turmoil as the Congress-led opposition boycotts the session following the suicide of a disabled individual.

Reported by: Aswin Nandakumar
Edited by: Shweta Singh
Tragedy Spurs Political Discord in Kerala Assembly: Opposition Boycotts Session Amid Controversy Over Disabled Man's Suicide
Assembly in Uproar: Opposition Shuns Session Amid Tragic Suicide Controversy | Image:Republic
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Kerala: The 10th session of the 15th Kerala legislative assembly witnessed emotional turmoil over the incident of the suicide of a 77-year-old disabled man allegedly due to the CPIM-led government's inability to pay disability pension.

On Monday, the congress lead opposition introduced the adjournment motion citing that the suicide and the larger issue of government delay in paying pension on time must be debated.

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However, Finance Minister KN Balagopal while responding to the adjournment rejected the idea for a debate on the same. "The deceased had written a letter to Panchayat in November 2023 citing delay in pension. He committed suicide in January 2024. However, he receives pension in November and December as well," cited the finance minister.

The finance minister also raised doubts on the veracity of the claims made by the deceased. "The police and a leading media network have not found any substantial evidence to suggest that Joseph killed himself because of non-payment of pension," stated Balagopal.

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FINANCE MINISTER BLAMES CENTRE

The Finance Minister reiterated the LDF government's commitment to increasing the pension amount, assuring its implementation. He acknowledged challenges arising from the decision to convert the pension company's debt into the state's debt. The minister clarified that if the centre allocates Rs 57,400 crores, the welfare pension will be Rs 2500, in line with the LDF government's stance.

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Regarding the ongoing investigation into the suicide, the minister firmly rejected allegations of government neglect. He emphasized that a comprehensive inquiry is underway to ascertain the facts.

In an attempt to address the broader concerns, the finance minister suggested a joint protest in New Delhi, urging collaboration between the government and the opposition to voice their shared grievances. This proposal reflects the minister's call for unity in addressing the larger issues at hand.

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OPPOSITION HOLD PLACARDS INSIDE THE WELL BOYCOTTS SESSION

In response to the opposition holding placards and boycotting the session, Opposition Leader VD Satheeshan delivered an emotional speech condemning the state government's reluctance to address the concerns raised in the suicide note. He expressed dismay, stating, "It is appalling that a suicide note is also put under a lens of doubt and trying to paint it as a concocted act."

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Satheeshan highlighted the government's misplaced priorities, specifically criticizing the extravagant spending on events like Keraleeyam, a week-long festival coinciding with the state formation anniversary. He accused the government of neglecting essential obligations, emphasizing their preference for festivities over ensuring timely payments such as pensions and mid-day meal dues.

During the protest, opposition MLAs displayed placards against the state government. Despite the assembly continuing with its scheduled business, the surge of protest in the house led to the opposition boycotting the session at 11:40 am. The escalating tensions underscore the deepening divide over the handling of the disabled man's suicide and the broader issues surrounding government priorities.

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HIGH COURT REGISTERS SUO MOTO CASE

Last Wednesday, The Kerala High Court registered a suo motu case in connection with the suicide of Joseph after it came across media reports about the suicide. The court said that a case is registered to protect the interest of the deceased daughter Jincy, who is also physically disabled and lives in an orphanage. 

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Published January 29th, 2024 at 13:57 IST

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