Party worker allegedly manhandled during protest

A tense situation prevailed in the capital on Wednesday night after Opposition activists took out torchlight marches to protest against the police action on Left Democratic Front (LDF) workers who attempted to prevent Chief Minister Oommen Chandy from attending a government function at Anayara earlier in the day.

About 200 LDF workers, most of them belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), were on a stake out in front of the World Market Complex locality from noon to prevent Mr. Chandy from attending the inauguration of the vegetable wholesale market there.

(The LDF had earlier announced that it would boycott the Chief Minister’s public functions till he relinquished power and faced a judicial inquiry in the Team Solar financial fraud scam.)

The police were deployed in strength at the spot and were tasked, primarily, to protect the Chief Minister and prevent any protester from entering the venue. Riot police formed a human wall on either side of the road to prevent protesters from throwing themselves in front of the Chief Minister’s motorcade.

At 1.15 p.m., the protesters turned restive when they spotted a government car approaching the venue. They hurled eggs and stones at the car. However, it turned out that Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan and M.A. Waheed, MLA, were travelling by the car and not Mr. Chandy.

The police kept the protesters at bay for an hour. Their sloganeering and posturing turned vociferous when they spotted the Chief Minister’s cavalcade approaching the venue at 2.15 p.m. The activists hurled eggs as the Chief Minister’s car it sped past them.

The police were taken by surprise when all of a sudden one protester, who was subsequently identified as Jayaprasad, a Gulf returnee and secretary of the CPI(M) Thamarakulam branch, attempted to barge into the venue. They grappled with him for a few minutes before hustling him into a police van, which took him to some undisclosed location.

Opposition activists were later incensed to learn that their party colleague had been admitted to a government hospital with serious injuries. Later, in a press release, CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan accused the police of inflicting blunt force injuries on the man’s genitals. He said the police action smacked of a pre-Independence feudal attitude on the part of Mr. Chandy’s government. He said the anti-democratic actions of the law enforcement during the colonial period paled in comparison to what the city police had done to Mr. Jayaprasad. He asked the government to suspend the officials concerned and inquire into the incident or face more public protests. The CPI and the RSP have also condemned the incident.

The city police denied that they had deliberately assaulted Mr. Jayaprasad. A senior official said the police action was legitimate. Officers and men had carried out the duty, protection of the Chief Minister for which they were tasked. Injuries, if any, to protesters were inadvertent and there was no premeditation on the part of law enforcers. Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said he had asked the State Police Chief K. S. Balasubramanian to order an inquiry into the incident.