LDF’s Secretariat siege begins on August 12

The State police are likely to ask the District Magistrate to issue a restraining order under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to prohibit any assembly of more than 10 people in at least five police station limits in the capital next week.

The anticipated move is to forestall every possible scenario that could lead to breach of public peace in connection with an Opposition-sponsored indefinite Secretariat siege scheduled to commence here on August 12.

Certain organisations and individuals close to the government are likely to move the High Court of Kerala against the planned mass protest, including preventing the entry of protestors from other parts of the State into the district.

At least one lakh Left Democratic Front (LDF) workers, a majority of them card-holding members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), from all over the State are expected to encircle the Secretariat next Monday.

Demands

The indefinite agitation is to highlight the ‘dubious role’ of high-level government apparatchiks in the Team Solar financial fraud, press for the resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and institution of a judicial inquiry into the scam.

The protest promises to be a mix of festivities and expressions of anger against the United Democratic Front government and is likely to be organised on the lines of the famous ‘Occupy Wall Street’ agitation in the United States. It is sure to affect life in the capital.

The restraining orders are likely in the Cantonment, Museum, Vanchiyoor, Thampanoor, and Fort police station limits. More than 2,000 policemen, including at least 60 sub-divisional officers, drawn from across the State will reinforce the capital’s constabulary.

Muthanga stir

At least nine years have passed since the capital has witnessed an indefinite mass protest on the scale planned by the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF). In October 2004, the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha had erected huts in front of the Secretariat to press its demand for arable land and other benefits to the deprived Vedar tribal community, numbering approximately 30,000, in Kerala. The agitation, was held against the backdrop of a police action on tribal activists at Muthanga in Wayanad district in February 2003, almost disrupted the Onam pageantry that year. The scale and scope of the LDF agitation is likely to be several times higher compared to the tribal protests.

Every branch committee of the CPI(M) and other LDF constituents in Kerala will send at least two party members for the agitation. This means that the LDF will mobilise at least 25,000 men from Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam alone.

Various area committees of the CPI(M) in the capital have started raising funds, organising accommodation, and setting up community kitchens to host their party colleagues from other districts. For instance, the CPM Palayam area committee will host party cadres from Kozhikode. A CPI(M) branch-level official says the costs involved in providing food and basic boarding to the protestors are huge and an active fund collection drive is on. The first batch of protestors will return home on August 18 and their ranks will be replenished by an almost same number of fresh agitators.

The municipal authorities are also bracing to tackle an increased garbage and sewage burden the mass protest is likely to trigger. Pro-LDF student, service, and mass organisations will send their cadres to bolster the ranks of the protestors.

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