Anti-government protests rock Kerala for fourth day

The police chasing away Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists who try to topple the barricades put up at the Secretariat gate during their protest demanding the resignation of Minister K.T. Jaleel on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA

Anti-government protests connected to UAE consulate-linked gold smuggling case flared up across the State for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday.

The Congress and the BJP workers demanding the expulsion of Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel from the Cabinet swarmed the streets.

They clashed with the police in several districts, resulting in injuries on both sides and potentially risking an accelerated spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The demonstrations also targeted Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan on the charge that Central agencies had found evidence financially linking his son to an accused in the smuggling case.

Police action

The police used water cannons and teargas to disperse a Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha march to Mr. Jayarajan’s house in Kannur.

KSU workers demanding the resignation of Dr. Jaleel blocked the Wayanad-Kozhikode National Highway. They later clashed with the police in front of district headquarters. BJP protesters grappled with law enforcers in Palakkad.

In Thiruvananthapuram, multiple marches by diverse political organisations buffeted the Secretariat. SDPI activists burned Dr. Jaleel in effigy.

The police baton-charged BJP workers who attempted to breach the barricade. They trained their water cannon against Youth Congress workers to prevent them from storming the Secretariat. Comparably belligerent protests broke out in Kochi and Thrissur.

Life disrupted

The wave of demonstrations disrupted everyday life in some measure in the State. City centres and district headquarters remained cut off to vehicular and pedestrian traffic for the better part of the day.

Meanwhile, the Congress and the BJP rejected Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s statement on Monday that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had found no wrongdoing on the part of Dr. Jaleel.

The agency had questioned the Minister last week purportedly to seek information on his transactions with the UAE consulate, including the acceptance of an unusually large consignment of Koran and food kits last Ramzan.

‘No clean chit’

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and BJP State president K. Surendran rejected the government’s claim that the ED had given a clean chit to Dr. Jaleel. The leaders reiterated their allegation that the import of Koran and dates for distribution during Ramzan was a cover for gold smuggling.

Their statements came against the background of conflicting news reports about whether the ED had given a clean chit or not to Dr. Jaleel.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 6:41:15 PM |

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