Hell almost broke loose for some moments at the Collectorate on Thursday, with a protest march taken out by various pro-Left youth organisations seeking the resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the solar scam turning violent.

No fewer than 44 police officers, including Assistant Commissioner (North) Prince Abraham and Circle Inspector P.K. Santhosh, were injured in the heavy stone throwing and admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital here. Twenty protesters, allegedly involved in attacking the cops, were arrested in connection with the incident.

The police resorted to lathi charge as the irate protesters, including Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and Students Federation of India (SFI) activists, continued to provoke the police by throwing stones. Some of them attacked the police using long poles.

With the situation threatening to spiral out of control, the police used tear-gas shells and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

The skirmishes between the police and the protesters continued for long, with some of the injured youth attempting to rough up the officers on duty. The protesters also damaged the vehicles of presspersons who were present on the spot.

Udayakumar, a senior civil police officer attached to the Armed Reserve camp, also sustained injuries, when some of the protesters who were leaving the spot attacked him with stones near the Special Additional District and Sessions Court (Marad cases) at Eranhipalam. Mr. Udayakumar was coming to the court to deliver meals to the staff there. He was later admitted to the Government General Hospital in the city.

The situation was brought under control after tough police action. The dispersed crowd later assembled near the Collectorate and shouted slogans against the Chief Minister for his “hesitation” to resign.

The DYFI workers, who took out a separate demonstration in the city after the Collectorate march, alleged that 20 of their activists were seriously injured in the police action. During the demonstration, they destroyed the lights and banners at the entrance to the District Congress Committee office. A farmers’ convention on the DCC office premises was interrupted.

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