In late-night drama at Kothamangalam, police arrest Congress legislator Mathew Kuzhalnadan and DCC president

Late-night drama was a continuation of an equally eventful day when Congress activists protested with body of the woman trampled to death by elephant at Kanjiraveli in Idukki

March 05, 2024 09:09 am | Updated 01:19 pm IST - KOCHI:

Ernakulam DCC president Mohammed Shiyas who was arrested by the police late night on Monday being taken away in a police vehicle 

Ernakulam DCC president Mohammed Shiyas who was arrested by the police late night on Monday being taken away in a police vehicle  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

High drama prevailed in Kothamangalam town around Monday midnight when the police swooped down and arrested Mathew Kuzhalnadan, MLA, and Ernakulam district Congress Committee president Mohammed Shiyas.

Mr. Kuzhalnadan was arrested from a tent put up at the Post Office Junction in Kothamangalam town where he was on an indefinite hunger strike with fellow legislator Eldhose Kunnappillil demanding a permanent solution to the human-wildlife conflicts across the State.

Attempt to arrest Mr. Kunnappillil was resisted by senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala who had earlier inaugurated the hunger strike. The police had taken him into a police vehicle from which Mr. Chennithala got him released, said Congress sources.

The arrest of Mr. Shiyas was more dramatic of which a video has emerged since then. In the video, a police officer in plainclothes, accompanied by a posse of policemen in uniform, could be seen taking Mr. Shiyas away in a wrestling-like lock from behind from near a shop near the protest venue where he had gone for having refreshments. The arrest was unexpected as there were only a handful of party workers with him at the time who were not able to resist the police move.

This was followed by the Congress workers having a minor confrontation with the police. They hurled chairs at the police and pelted stones at a police vehicle parked in the area. While Mr. Shiyas was taken to the Oonnukal police station, the whereabouts of Mr. Kuzhalnadan were not immediately known. Protests were also held in Kochi city under the aegis of DCC in the early hours of Tuesday.

Their arrests were in two separate cases, including on non-bailable charges. The Ernakulam Rural police registered cases against them in connection with the protest and the alleged forcible acquisition of the body of Indira, who was trampled to death by a wild elephant, from the Kothamangalam taluk hospital.

The police, however, received a setback after a Magistrate granted them interim bail around 3 a.m. on Tuesday. Their case was likely to be heard in the open court later in the day.

Mr. Kuzhalnadan dubbed the late-night arrests as a provocation by the police and part of a ploy to divert attention from other issues.

The Congress and its feeder organisations have been on a warpath with the Kerala government over the death of J.S. Sidharth, a second-year student at the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at Pookode in Wayanad district.

Mr. Shiyas said that they could not be browbeaten and that the protests will continue.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said that protests will be held across the State on Tuesday against “police high-handedness.”

He said that scenes reminiscent of West Bengal before the Left rule of 33 years ended there was playing out in Kerala as well. “This is the beginning of the end for the CPI(M) and Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala,” he said.

The late-night drama was a continuation of an equally eventful day when the Congress activists protesting with the body of the woman trampled to death by an elephant at Kanjiraveli in Idukki for over two hours were lathi-charged by the police to recover the body for inquest and a post-mortem examination.

The police had since then registered two cases. In one case, Mr. Shiyas, United Democratic Front (UDF) district convener Shibu Thekkumpuram, Dean Kuriakose, MP, and Mr. Kuzhalnadan were the key accused. They were booked under IPC Sections 353 (assaulting or using criminal force against a public servant in the execution of his duty or with intent to prevent or deter him) 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 297 (causing indignity to human corpse), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 149 (liability of member of all in unlawful assembly).

In another case registered based on a petition filed by the nursing superintendent of the taluk hospital, Mr. Kuzhalnadan and Mr. Thekkumpuram were the key accused and they were booked under the Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence) Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act besides the IPC sections.

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