Published: 18th September 2019
Kerala PSC in Malayalam: Meet the activists who were on a hunger strike raising the demand
A total of five Aikya Malayala Prasthanam members led the strike -- NP Priyesh, Roopima, Subhash, Shreya S R and Anoop Valancherry
For these activists, their love for their mother tongue is above everything. This is no exaggeration. They did not even care to miss their Onam sadyas and fasted for days continuously demanding that the Kerala government allow a provision to write the PSC examinations in Malayalam. The 19-day protest outside the Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) headquarters ended on Monday after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan promised a redressal of their demands.
A total of five Aikya Malayala Prasthanam members led the strike -- NP Priyesh, Roopima, Subhash, Shreya S R and Anoop Valancherry. “Even after submitting a letter, we did not get any response from PSC. That is when we decided to go ahead with the plan giving Onam celebrations a miss,” said Priyesh, who led the hunger strike for 11 days. He was later removed from the venue by the police.
According to him, the protest soon became a people’s issue with members from disadvantaged sections taking part. Sharing his experience, he said, “I work at a government school, the cook there who feeds close to 2,000 students every day called me asking if she could bring me food on Thiruvonam. Also, a 78-year-old lady, Renuka Devi, sat to guard us at night. The love and care of people like them was the strength of the protest.”
Roopima S, a research student, joined the hunger strike on the very first day. She starved for seven days before she was arrested and moved from the venue. According to her, PSC’s decision not to conduct the exams in Malayalam was a violation of democratic rights.
For Subhash Kumar, a Malayalam research student at Pattambi SNGS College, the hunger strike was a platform to address the ordeals he faced while appearing for state exams. “I studied in a Malayalam medium school. It was difficult for me to answer a question written in a foreign language within 45 seconds,” said Subhash. “Seventy-four-year-old Pyari M Sreevalsam came to be by my side at night despite her poor health. She was unwilling to dress up for Onam as she felt sorry to see us not eat anything,” he said.
People from different walks of life joined the protest, extending their solidarity to the cause. Prominent personalities including Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Sugathakumari, V N Murali and Madhupal took part in the demonstration in Thiruvananthapuram while M T Vasudevan Nair and M N Karassery joined the one in Kozhikode. Balachandran Chullikad, Kureepuzha Sreekumar and M Mukundan also took part in the protests held across the state.
Soon, the PSC recruitment examinations will also be held in Malayalam. For the members of Aikya Malayala Prasthanam, the success of their hunger strike demanding that PSC exams be conducted in Malayalam is the result of a long-drawn battle between the commission and the Aikya Malayala Prasthanam.
When the one -day dharna held on February 21 (International Mother Language Day) and on November 1 (Kerala Piravi day) failed to resolve the issue, members of the Aikya Malayala Prasthanam gave notice to PSC stating their decision to hold an indefinite hunger strike in front of the headquarters.