Priests exhorted protesters to indulge in violence in Vizhinjam, police tell HC

Those protesting against the seaport project damaged public and private property, and attacked police station, leaving 64 police personnel injured, says the police affidavit

December 01, 2022 08:59 pm | Updated 08:59 pm IST - KOCHI

The police have blamed the priests who led the protests in Vizhinjam for exhorting the devotees to indulge in violent activities, attack police personnel, and damage vehicles.

In an affidavit filed before the High Court on Thursday, G. Sparjan Kumar, City Police Commissioner, Thiruvananthapuram, submitted that the mob of around 2,000 people, including women, children, and the elderly, who gathered at the project site upon hearing the church bells, damaged public and private property on Monday. Violent clashes ensued between the detractors and supporters of the Vizhinjam International Seaport project, the police submitted.

Around 500 agitators led by Fr. Eugene H. Pereira, Fr. Lawrence Kulas, Fr. George Patrick, Fr. Phivovious, Fr. Shain, Fr. Ashmin John, Fr. Sajas Igantious, Fr. Antony, and Fr. A.R. John trespassed into the seaport area to obstruct the implementation of the orders of the High Court to maintain law and order. The agitators led by the priests destroyed the windowpanes of the port office, tubelights, and CCTV cameras, that resulted in a loss of ₹2.20 lakh, the affidavit said.

A mob of nearly 3,000 people, including priests, women, and aged persons laid siege to and vandalised the Vizhinjam police station on Tuesday, and attacked police personnel. They obstructed the vehicles and rescue personnel who arrived at the site to shift the injured personnel to hospitals, and damaged six vehicles of the police department and 20 private vehicles. As many as 64 police personnel were injured in the incidents. The police had to fire tear-gas shells and grenades to disperse the mob, it submitted.

Cases against 3,000

Cases were booked against 3,000 identifiable persons in this connection. While the police department suffered a loss of ₹85 lakh, the loss sustained by the KSRTC was to the tune of ₹7.96 lakh. Cases were registered against 50 identifiable persons in this connection. Over 500 police personnel have been deployed at Vizhinjam and the situation is constantly reviewed by senior police officers, according to the affidavit. The High Court is likely to consider the case on Friday.

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