Ghats order triggers violence in north Kerala

Violence erupted in different parts of north Kerala on Friday as hundreds of local people poured out into the streets to protest against the Central government for issuing orders implementing the Kasturirangan Committee report that would prevent mining and construction activities in large tracts of the Western Ghats in the State.

The police had to open fire in the air when protestors mobbed senior police officers, including District Police Chief (Kozhikode Rural) P.H. Ashraf and Deputy Superintendent of Police Jaison K. Abraham, at Adivaram, bordering Kozhikode and Wayanad districts. The police fired three rounds in the air to disperse the violent crowd and to free the detained officers. However, by then, the protestors had set ablaze a police vehicle and attacked mediapersons who had reached there to cover the incidents. Earlier, in the day, there were attacks on a village office, a telephone exchange, and a range office of the Forest Department.

Although the situation was brought under control by evening, violence erupted yet again and the protestors set ablaze a police jeep and a Kerala State Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus. One person, who sustained serious injuries following the attack on the bus, has been admitted to the government medical college in Kozhikode. Overall, around 20 police personnel and several local people were injured in the violent incidents during the day. Both the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) had called a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the area on Friday.

In Wayanad

In Wayanad, hundreds of farmers, including women and children, under the aegis of various political organisations, blocked vehicular traffic on State and inter-State highways in Mananthavady taluk in the district on Friday morning in protest against the Central action. They blocked the highway at Periya, Boy’s Town, and Kattikulam. Traffic through the inter-State highway was affected for nearly five hours. The LDF has called a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the district on Saturday.

In Kannur, a tense situation prevailed in parts of Kottiyur panchayat in the eastern hill areas in the wake of incidents of violence at Kelakam in the late hours of November 14 triggered by local anger against the implementation the recommendations of the Kasturirangan panel. Seven police vehicles, including five jeeps and two vans, were set ablaze and two vehicles were overturned when the local protest turned violent provoked by the routine forest survey by a four-member team of forest officials from Karnataka. District Collector Rathan Kelkar and Superintendent of Police Rahul R. Nair had to rush to the spot to pacify the irate crowd.

The situation remained tense on Friday as local action committee leaders and political leaders including K. Sudhakaran, MP, local MLA Sunny Joseph, and CPI(M) leader James Mathew reached the Malur police station around noon demanding release of four persons held by the police. The situation eased only after the Collector and SP assured the local vicar in writing that no penal action would be taken against the persons taken into custody.

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