The Kerala Police on Monday registered cases against 3,000 people for allegedly vandalizing Vizhinjam police station and attacking policemen on Sunday. Around 30 cops were injured in the attack and two of them seriously.
The cases were registered for rioting, attempt to murder and destruction of public property under various sections of the IPC. The FIR said that public property worth Rs 85 lakh was damaged during the violence unleashed by protesters
The protesters under the Vizhinjam Agitation Committee protested before the police station on Sunday demanding the release of people, who were taken into custody by the police in connection with the clashes in Vizhinjam on Saturday.
During the violence unleashed by protesters, who mostly belonged to the Latin Catholic community, around 30 policemen were injured in stone pelting and police station attacks. As many as five police vehicles were damaged by the protestors. Media persons were also injured in the commotion.
Police Sunday had taken into custody five persons in connection with the clashes on Saturday. The police have charged several church leaders of the Latin Archdiocese Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the clashes on Saturday between the Latin Catholic church-led Vizhinjam Agitation Committee, who are against the construction of Vizhinjam port by the Adani Group, and the People Collective of Mulloor, who are in favour of the port project.
Archbishop of Latin Catholic Diocese Dr Thomas J Netto, has been named as the first accused in the case filed by the police. Auxiliary bishop Dr R Christhudas is the second accused.
The clash erupted on Saturday after Adani Group attempted to resume construction work by bringing construction materials, including granite, to the port site in trucks. They had written to the state government on resuming the construction work on Saturday.
The vehicles were brought to the site after the Vizhinjam Agitation Committee promised the High Court on Tuesday that they would not stop them. However, a large group of people assembled at the port site and blocked 27 trucks on Saturday morning.
Soon, Mulloor residents reached the site and they had a heated argument with the protesters. It later snowballed into a scuffle, with agitators pelting stones at local residents. A few priests tried to calm them down but in vain.
In this connection, the ruling CPI-M called for ending attempts by some forces to incite violence at Vizhinjam. The party said that the incidents that took place at Vizhinjam on Sunday were serious and condemnable.
Ports Minister Ahamed Devarkovil blamed the Latin Church for communalising the protest. “Attacking police stations, manhandling policemen, launching attacks against other religious communities are not acceptable in a state like Kerala. The government is ready for any kind of compromise to maintain religious harmony in the state,” said the minister.
Education Minister V Sivankutty said that anti-port protesters are acting like terrorists. “It needs to be investigated whether there has been any external force behind the protests,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Latin Church has demanded a judicial probe into the incidents that resulted in violence at Vizhinjam on Saturday and Sunday. The Vicar General of the Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese, and the General Convenor of the protest, Eugine H Pereira, accused the government of scripting the violence.
An all-party meeting was held here on Monday to discuss the Vizhinjam issue. Civil Supplies Minister GR Anil, who represented the government in the meeting, said that barring the agitation committee, all other organisations including political parties have demanded for the speedy completion of the construction of the port.