Staff Reporter

Fisherfolk of two communities had clashed

Two were killed in the violence

Court examines four witnesses

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The trial on the over a decade-old Vizhinjam communal riots, that lead to the death of two persons and injured nearly 30 others including seven women, started here at the District Sessions Court III on Thursday. Clashes had broken out between fisherfolk owing allegiance to Christian and Muslim communities in the coastal area.

The proceedings began with the court examining four persons who were identified as witnesses. In all, there are 359 witnesses. The entire procedure would last till January next year, said Public Prosecutor S. Vijayakumaran.

According to the prosecution, the incident which lead to the communal riots occurred on May 1995 when a mob of around 500 fishermen belonging to the Christian community gutted nearly 400 huts and vandalised scores of fishing boats and tools belonging to the Muslim community allegedly as a response to an attack on a couple members of the Christian community earlier in the day.

The clash also saw Moulakkannu, 48, and Abdul Hameed, 70, members of the Muslim community, being clobbered to death by with wooden poles used for rowing boats. The attack which broke out at around 9.30 a.m. lasted for nearly an hour until the police arrived dispersed the mob by firing into the air. The police also booked 95 accused in connection with the case on various charges including murder, murder attempt, conspiracy, rioting and arson. The damage in the riot was pegged at Rs.1.5 crore.

The riots also led the police to open three outposts on the narrow strip of sea shore, dividing the two communities, to maintain law and order.