Protest against survey for laying four-lane road to industrial park
About 100 people including policemen were injured in a pitched battle between the police and local people at Kinaloor, 24 km from here, on Thursday after several hundred protestors prevented a team of revenue officials from conducting a feasibility survey for a proposed four-lane road to the KSIDC industrial park located on the Kinaloor industrial park.
The protestors had blocked the load leading to the estate with large boulders and timber logs in the morning when the officials, led by Revenue Divisional Officer K.P. Remadevi, arrived for the survey. Soon a pitched battle broke out between the protestors and the police and women constables were seen dragging women and children from the frontline of the blockade.
The police resorted to a lathicharge to cow down the protestors and they responded by hurling stones at the police. Several protestors including women and at least one child were injured in the lathicharge. Several policemen sustained injuries in stone-throwing. The police used a grenade and teargas to disperse the crowd. They chased the protestors into nearby houses.
The residents in the area have been questioning the rationale of laying a four-lane road to the park ever since a Malaysian government agency that had proposed a satellite city at Kinaloor withdrew from the project in September 2008. Also, there are rumours of a ‘land mafia' having purchased large swathes of land at Kinaloor in view of the Malaysian project.
The police allegedly damaged a car and a motorbike owned by a persons after he refused to cooperate with policemen searching for fleeing protestors. His daughter told presspersons that the policemen used expletives and behaved in a menacing manner.
Thamarassery Deputy Superintendent of Police Kuberan Namboodiri was among those who suffered major injuries. Among the 55 persons who came to the Community Health Centre at Balussery for treatment, 44 were police personnel.
A protestor who sustained injuries on his back and left leg said several persons injured in the lathicharge did not seek treatment in hospital for fear of police persecution.
The survey resumed after the police managed to disperse the protestors.
Meanwhile, a tense situation gripped the area outside the estate when Communist Party of India (Marxist) activists and the protestors regrouped there. This time, the police preferred to watch the situation from a safe distance.
The CPI(M) workers alleged that the protest and violence were orchestrated by outside elements. They said the policemen were provoked into lathicharging after the protestors sprayed a solution of cow dung on them.
The protestors said they had only convened a Jana Jagrata Samiti on the occasion. “We blocked the team that came for the survey three times earlier. There were policemen then too, but no violence happened. This time, policemen were sent with orders to use force against us,” alleged a protestor.
District leaders of the Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Solidarity Youth Movement soon arrived at the scene. The situation eased following Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan's orders to stop the survey. The Chief Minister directed the District Collector to submit a report on the incident. This was welcomed by the protestors, who took out a march later.