Police remove party symbols to prevent violence

Police Commissioner P. Prakash.

Police Commissioner P. Prakash.  

Clashes between CPI(M) activists and BJP workers in the city last month prompted police to take pre-emptive action

The police on Friday removed symbols of political parties put up at several vantage points in public places in the capital.

They used electric powered saws to remove scores of flag poles from their concrete pedestals in crowded urban neighbourhoods that had witnessed bouts of political violence for three consecutive days last month. Some of the flag masts were several decades old.

However, protesters were conspicuously absent when the police action unfolded simultaneously at heavily politicised downtown localities where the schism between residents allied to the opposing parties run old and deep.

The police said the clashes between Communist Party of India (Marxist) activists and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers that left one dead, several injured and scores of homes and party offices damaged in the end of July had prompted the “pre-emptive action”.

City Police Commissioner P. Prakash told The Hindu that Section 78 of the Kerala Police Act had been invoked to preserve public peace and safety in the capital. He had issued notices to all political parties to remove their symbols from public places. However, the notice went largely unheeded, prompting the police to expressly act on their own.

Officials said the political climate in the city still continued to be tense.

College campuses, where the violence first started, still remained restive. Minor political standoffs over the destruction of party symbols were still being reported daily in the capital.

More than 25 cases of rioting, unlawful assembly, destruction of property, criminal trespass and violation of the Arms Act were registered in the capital against political workers of both parties in connection with the violence in July. Many of the suspects were still at large and remained “operational”.

Officials said party symbols in public places were magnets for trouble. Political parties still commonly settled scores by destroying the symbols erected by their opponents. Such acts of vandalism could again set off a sequence of tit-for-tat violence that could spiral out of control as witnessed in July. Hence, the pre-emptive action, officials said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 6:47:28 AM |

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