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NDF activists attack Kottakkal police station; 27 arrested

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WEAPONS HAUL: A police officer examining weapons recovered from NDF men who attacked the Kottakkal police station on Thursday morning.
WEAPONS HAUL: A police officer examining weapons recovered from NDF men who attacked the Kottakkal police station on Thursday morning.

Staff Reporter

Protest against arrest of NDF State president and former chairman

MALAPPURAM: Activists belonging to the National Development Front (NDF) attacked the Kottakkal police station near here in the early hours of Thursday following the arrest of two senior leaders of the front.

Twenty-seven NDF men were arrested in connection with the incident.

Three policemen, including an inspector, were injured in the attack. But the injuries were minor. The station's windowpanes were broken and a few police vehicles damaged in stone throwing.

More than two dozen vehicles belonging to NDF activists were damaged. The police said they were damaged in stone throwing. The NDF alleged that the vehicles were banged up by policemen. These included 15 cars and several bikes and autorickshaws.

A large number of weapons, including daggers and knives, were recovered from the NDF men. Displaying the weapons before the media, the police said some of them were imported.

The late-night drama began with the arrest of NDF president K. Abdurahman Baqavi from his house at Koottilangadi near here and former NDF chairman A. Sayeed from his house at Edavanna near Manjeri. Mr. Baqavi was taken to the Malappuram police station and Mr. Sayeed to the Kottakkal police station. The police said the NDF leaders were arrested under preventive laws following an order from the Director-General of Police. A few leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were also arrested.

The police had clamped prohibitory orders on the Tirurangadi, Parappanangadi and Kottakkal station limits on Wednesday as attacks between the NDF and the RSS escalated in the district.

Soon after Mr. Sayeed was brought to the Kottakkal police station, a crowd of about 300 NDF activists gathered outside the station. The police said they laid siege to the station and demanded that their leader be released.

Additional police force from all parts of the district was rushed to Kottakkal. The police said their requests to disburse (in view of the prohibitory orders there) fell on deaf ears.

When the Deputy Superintendent of Police of Tirur division, B. Varghese, came to the station around 1 a.m. on Thursday, stones were pelted at his vehicle. When stoning intensified, the police caned the NDF men and lobbed six teargas shells at the crowd.

The police said they chased and caught 27 fleeing NDF men. NDF sources said 23 of their men were arrested and the others were local residents.

Charges of destroying communal harmony and public property were slapped on them. They were produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate in Malappuram and remanded for 15 days.

NDF leaders said their workers were beaten up by the police without provocation. They said the police themselves had hurled bricks at the station, damaged the vehicles and fabricated a story.

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