Protest will be peaceful, say LDF leaders

More than 2,500 policemen will be deployed at the venue of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s day-long mass contact programme scheduled to be held at the Central Stadium here on Friday.

The Opposition’s threat to boycott Mr. Chandy’s initiative to redress public grievances on the spot had necessitated the massive police deployment. More than 5,000 citizens are expected to attend the event.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) has threatened to field 10,000 of its activists to prevent the Chief Minister and his officials from attending the function. Its leaders have made it clear that they will not prevent the “beneficiaries” of the event from attending the function. They said LDF activists would stage a peaceful protest against Mr. Chandy and try to block his path as he arrived at the venue. Opposition activists would converge near the Secretariat an hour before the start of the mass contact programme at 9 a.m. and court arrest, LDF leaders said. Opposition MPs and MLAs would gather before the Press Club and take out a demonstration against the Chief Minister.

The police said they anticipated LDF workers to block all roads to the venue. The protestors were likely to congregate in front of the VJT Hall, Pulimoodu Junction, Press Club Road, and the Accountant General’s office.

The protests are scheduled to precede the inauguration of the programme at 9 a.m. This could lead to traffic snarls in large portions of the city for the better part of the day. Additional Director General of Police A. Hemachandran chaired a meeting of city police officials on Thursday evening. He has divided the locality of the function into seven zones, each under the control of a Superintendent of Police backed by sufficient riot police. The zones have been further divided into police subdivisions and circles, each headed by Deputy Superintendent and Circle Inspector of Police respectively.

The police said it would be a near impossible task to differentiate between protesters and beneficiaries of the government programme at the entrances to the venue. The government has vetted only 500 applicants so far and they have been issued passes to attend the function.

Opposition MPs and MLAs would gather before the Press Club and take out a demonstration against the Chief Minister. There would be no attempt to block the path of people who would arrive at the Central Stadium with their grievances, the leaders said.