Kozhikode DCC president arrested

KOZHIKODE, NOV. 1. The District Congress Committee president, Mr. M. Veerankutty, was arrested in the wee hours of this morning triggering a volley of protests from the Congress camp.

Irate Congressmen staged a dharna in front of the office of the City Police Commissioner in the evening holding aloft placards condemning the Police Commissioner. Among those who addressed the protesters was the KPCC president, Mr. K. Muraleedharan.

Mr. Veerankutty, who took over as full-time DCC chief only recently, was taken into custody by the police around 3-00 a.m. from a lodge in the city in connection with yesterday's incidents when Congress workers clashed with policemen while participating in their `Indira Jyothi' programme in front of the Commissioner's office.

The DCC president was later released on bail by the Chief Judicial Magistrate. He was then admitted to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital after he complained of chest pain. Mr. Veerankutty said he was treated like a terrorist.

The KPCC president rang up the Chief Minister, Mr. A. K. Antony, and the senior party leader, Mr. K. Karunakaran, who were in Delhi. He also spoke to the AICC general secretary, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, about the `harsh treatment' meted out to the DCC president by the police.

A meeting of the KPCC office-bearers is being called in Thiruvananthapuram tomorrow to discuss the matter.

Mr. Veerankutty is the first accused in the case. As the DCC president, it was he who applied for permission to take out a rally to mark the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi.

He was arrested under Sections 143, 147, 148, 353, 332, 447 read with Section 149 of the IPC. A more serious charge has been made against him under Section 3 (1) of the Prevention of Destruction of Public Property Act which is a non-bailable offence. This pertains to the attack on the official car of the Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) and stoning of the Office of the Police Commissioner.

A Circle Inspector and a constable were among the policemen injured in the attack by participants in the Congress rally when policemen stopped them from taking a route different from the one for which permission was granted by the City Police Commissioner.

Moving a bail application for Mr. Veerankutty, the INTUC leader and lawyer, Mr. M. Rajan, argued before the Chief Judicial Magistrate that the former was not present at the scene of the alleged crime committed by Congress workers and that when the violence broke out, he was presiding over a meeting at which the KPCC president unveiled a portrait of Indira Gandhi at the Town Hall.

The City Police Commissioner, Mr. Sakhare, told The Hindu that what he had done was strictly in line with the law of the land. The violent incidents and the attack on the office of the Police Commissioner had been videotaped and it would be produced in the court at an appropriate time.

He said policemen had shown utmost restraint in the face of grave provocation. Guards posted at the Commissionerate of Police could have opened fire when the office came under attack. But they did not. Stones hurled at the office of the Police Commissioner were still lying there.

The processionists used loudspeakers violating the High Court ban. Other norms laid down by the High Court to avoid inconvenience to the public when processions are held were also flouted. ``I am here to enforce the law. Anyone who violates the law will be booked. It does not matter if they belong to the Congress or the RSS,'' he added.

Cases have been registered against five other party workers also in connection with the incidents. But they are absconding. The case has been posted for hearing on November 8.

Congress workers led by the KPCC president, Mr. K. Muraleedharan, staging a dharna in front of the City Police Commissioner's Office in Kozhikode on Thursday in protest against the arrest of the DCC president, Mr. Veerankutty.

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