KERALA

Antony surrendered CM post to DGP: Nayanar

THRISSUR JAN. 28. The former Chief Minister and CPI(M) politburo member, E.K. Nayanar, has alleged that by merely conceding all the `orders' of the Director General of Police (DGP), K.J. Joseph, the Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, has surrendered his post to the DGP.

Inaugurating the Collectorate siege organised by the CITU here today, Mr. Nayanar said the Chief Minister was trying to crush the legitimate agitations of the workers at the instance of the DGP. Recalling that it was the `civil disobedience movement' led by Mahatma Gandhi that won the Freedom to the country, Mr. Nayanar said how could a DGP order that the workers who were being deprived of their means of livelihood should not agitate. "The DGP is essentially a military man; he knows only shooting, and is not aware of the deeper social and political sensibilities of the people of Kerala, that is why he is taking such steps to crush the workers' strike. I knew that he was not man fit for handling the law and order situation, that is why we refrained from appointing him in the law and order section when the LDF was in power," Mr Nayanar said.

Reiterating the allegation that Mr. Antony has become a `prisoner' of the DGP, Mr. Nayanar said, "why should a DGP go to the court against an agitation? Instead of permitting the DGP to go to the court, the Chief Minister should have held discussions with the workers. The High Court has only directed the CITU to ensure that the agitation is peaceful. The CITU never wanted a violent agitation. But, if somebody attacks, naturally we will not leave them."

Criticising the move of the Government to sell the natural resources of the State, Mr. Nayanar said, "a Government which sells off the Bharatappuzha and Periyar rivers, will one day sell the Secretariat also."

Hundreds of CITU workers participated in the blockade which virtually gave a holiday to the offices housed in the Collectorate from morning to evening. The blockade passed off peacefully. Several leaders including the CPI(M) district secretary, E.P. Jayarajan, C.O. Paulose, MP, and E.K. Menon, were among those who addressed the picketing volunteers.

The police had made elaborate arrangements to ensure that there were no untoward incidents during the blockade.

Crisis foiled

In Kottayam, thousands of workers laid siege to the district headquarters as part of the CITU blockade.

A crisis situation created by a few agitationists was foiled by the police when they tried to obstruct the entry of few advocates into the district headquarters campus where the courts are situated. The over-enthusiastic workers were taken into custody and released later.

The siege, however, appeared to have lost its focus as it turned into an `anti-DGP' forum as speakers after speakers lambasted the Kerala police chief for his unsuccessful attempt to foil the agitation through legal recourse.

Functioning of the Collectorate was hampered on account of the siege, though the District Collector and a few of the departmental heads managed to sneak into their office at the early hours of the day, much before the agitation began.

The agitation was inaugurated by V.R. Bhaskaran, district chief of the CITU. K.M. Sudharkan, State treasurer, delivered the keynote address. K. Suresh Kurup, Vaikom Viswan, district secretary, and others spoke on the occasion.

Five injured

In Alappuzha, five persons including the Alappuzha municipal vice-chairman, S.B. Bashir, and three UDF councillors were injured when a group of people, allegedly CITU workers returning after the blockade of Alappuzha Collectorate, attacked them near the municipal office this afternoon.

The other injured councillors include the former municipal chairman and DCC secretary, A.A. Shukkoor, Mehboob and Sunil George and the driver, Prakash. They have been admitted to the Alappuzha Medical College Hospital. The Alappuzha South Police have registered a case in connection with the incident.

Reports said the car in which the councillors was travelling had a minor collision with a lorry carrying CITU workers. In the ensuing melee, the CITU workers attacked the councillors.

Barring the incident the blockade was peaceful in the district. Over 60,000 people, including workers and their family members, participated in the blockade, according to a CITU statement. The blockade which began at 6 a.m. continued till 5 p.m.

Inaugurating the blockade, the CITU State secretary, P.K. Gurudasan, warned of more serious protests if the Government continued with its `anti-worker policies'.

Those who addressed the gathering included the CPI(M) district secretary, M.A. Baby, and the CITU district secretary, K. Prasad.

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