Protest against “anti-youth” policies of government; water cannons, teargas used to disperse activists
The police used water cannons, teargas shells and force to disperse the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists after a Secretariat march taken out by them on Saturday turned violent. The BJYM activists were protesting against the alleged anti-youth policies of the United Democratic Front government and the decision to raise the retirement age of government staff.
Around 30 BJYM activists were injured. Six of them — its State president V.V. Rajesh, vice-president R.S. Rajeev, and secretary K. Bijumon; district secretary Sampath; Hari and Manjunath, suffered serious injuries.
Violence erupted around 12.40 p.m. when Bharatiya Janata Party State president V. Muraleedharan was inaugurating the march. As he was addressing the BJYM activists in front of the main gate of the Secretariat, four activists attempted to enter the Secretariat premises by jumping over the boundary wall. The police personnel posted inside foiled the attempt. This irked the activists, who started throwing stones at the police.
As the stone-pelting intensified, the police used water cannons at the agitators, who ran helter-skelter. But the group that moved towards the Statue-General Hospital road continued to throw stones at the police.
As the activists reassembled and started attacking the personnel, the police resorted to teargas shells. The police also lathi-charged the agitators and chased them all the way up to General Hospital Junction. Another group was chased up to VJT Hall. Students prevented the efforts of the activists to enter the University College.
The police personnel later rounded off the agitators from shops, business establishments and hotels. The policemen in anti-riot gear lathi-charged those who were standing on the footpath opposite the Secretariat's main gate. The police singled out and beat those who could not flee in time.
Over 140 activists were taken into custody and shifted to the AR camp at Nandavanam. The injured were also taken to the camp after providing medical treatment.
The BJP president staged a sit-in in front of the Secretariat in the evening, demanding release of the arrested, and the permission to meet the activists in the AR camp. A tense situation prevailed on the arterial road for over an hour following the police action.
Vehicular traffic was disrupted. Over 50 motorcycles parked in front of the main gate and on the road leading to General Hospital suffered damages.
Around 144 Yuva Morcha activists who were arrested in connection with the protest were produced before the Magistrate and have been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
A tense situation prevailed in front of the Secretariat gate, late on Saturday night, where a group of BJP activists were protesting against the arrest of party activists.