Cases registered against archbishop, priests in Vizhinjam violence case

In protest against police move, agitators lay siege to police station, vandalise vehicles, and hold police personnel hostage

November 27, 2022 09:28 pm | Updated November 28, 2022 11:01 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Arch Bishop Thomas J Netto addressing the protesters in Thiruvananthapuram. File photo

Arch Bishop Thomas J Netto addressing the protesters in Thiruvananthapuram. File photo | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

A day after violent clashes broke out between those opposing and supporting the Vizhinjam International Seaport at the project site here, the police on Sunday registered cases against more than 50 persons, including priests of the Thiruvananthapuram archdiocese of the Catholic Church (Latin rites) and action council members. Cases were registered against archbishop Thomas J. Netto, auxiliary bishop Christudas, and vicar general Eugene Pereira in connection with the violence.6

The State government’s decision to arraign the priests who spearheaded the agitation against the port project and coordinators of the action council by invoking charges such as criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, rioting, and voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servants from discharging their duty has evoked a sharp response from the protesters.

Protesters’ demands

By evening, a large group of protesters gathered in front of the Vizhinjam police station, vandalised four police vehicles parked in the area and held police personnel hostage. They then attacked people who tried to shoot the visuals. Although senior police officers who rushed to the spot tried to disperse the protesters, they refused to go back insisting that the five taken into custody be released and that cases foisted against the priests be withdrawn.

The district administration deployed a large posse of police force at the project site and vicinity of the police station. Earlier in the day, after much dilly-dallying, the police charged eight cases against the protesters and two cases against the port supporters for rioting and destroying public property worth ₹2 lakh.

Recovery of loss

The State government has reportedly decided to recover from the archdiocese the loss suffered by the port developer Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt. Ltd. (AVPL) because of the strike. In the morning, a circular was read out at churches under the archdiocese urging believers to strengthen the stir.

Church stance

Meanwhile, Mr. Pereira alleged that the government was trying to sabotage the stir by whipping up tension and arraigning priests and fishermen. Criticising the police decision to register cases against the bishop and senior priests who were not physically present at the protest site on Saturday, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan alleged that the LDF government had stooped to such a level that it would do anything to favour the Adani group while ignoring the plight of the fishermen.

As many as 10 people were injured on Saturday when the protesters clashed with the port supporters in connection with blocking the way of trucks laden with construction material to the project site.

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