All-party meeting fails to break Vizhinjam impasse

Kerala police have registered cases against over 3,000 ‘identifiable persons’ for attacking Vizhinjam police station

Updated - November 29, 2022 01:59 pm IST

Published - November 28, 2022 09:23 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The road leading to the Vizhinjam Fishing Harbour being blocked by fishermen using fishing boats, in Thiruvananthapuram on November 28, 2022.

The road leading to the Vizhinjam Fishing Harbour being blocked by fishermen using fishing boats, in Thiruvananthapuram on November 28, 2022. | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

A day after the violent protest against the police at Vizhinjam, an all-party meeting convened by the Kerala government on November 28, 2022 to restore peace at the project site of the ₹7,500-crore Vizhinjam International Seaport, Thiruvananthapuram, failed to break the logjam and ended inconclusively with no concrete measure being announced after the meeting. All the political parties, except the Opposition MLA M Vincent at the Kovalam constituency where the port work is under way, stood in favour of resuming the work on the seaport project.

The Latin Archdiocese-led Action Council, which spearheads the protest, said the police had provoked the local people by arresting five persons who were not part of the violent protest on Saturday. Alleging a conspiracy to defame the protest movement, leaders of the council called for a judicial probe into the violence.

Condemning the violent incidents, Food and Civil Supplies Minister G.R. Anil, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Kerala government, said the cases charged against the protesters in connection with the violent incidents would not be dropped. The meeting cautioned against attempts to create communal discord in Vizhinjam and insisted that the seaport project should not be abandoned or interrupted, said Mr. Anil.

Trail of destruction

The police on Monday registered cases against over 3,000 ‘identifiable persons’ for attacking the Vizhinjam police station and holding police personnel hostage for around four hours. As many as 38 police personnel were reported to be injured in the violent clashes that ensued, which left a trail of destruction to public property. Earlier, the police also registered cases against at least 50 persons, including Latin Catholic priests, comprising metropolitan Archbishop Thomas J Netto, Auxiliary bishop Christudas, and Vicar general Eugine Pereira in connection with the violence on the previous day, which was the trigger for the violence on Sunday.

Violence broke out in the night when the police detained five protesters — one of them was later remanded in judicial custody while four others were let off on station bail. They vandalised three police jeeps, two police vans, four KSRTC buses, over 20 bikes parked nearby, and a few private vehicles. Speaking to the media, Additional Director General of Police M.R. Ajith Kumar said the attack was pre-meditated and without any provocation on behalf of the police. The police had been exercising maximum restraint in the project area despite provocation and they resorted to caning and using tear-gas shells and grenades against the protesters as the last means to disperse the violent mob.

The district police administration on Monday deployed around 600 personnel in the region to maintain law and order. The protesters led by the Latin Archdiocese have been stalling the construction of the port by Adani Vizhinjam Port Private Limited since July 20 saying the port work had aggravated the coastal erosion in the region.

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