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Vizhinjam violence: NIA steps in to probe violence

Police on Monday registered cases against 3,000 people for vandalizing Vizhinjam police station and attacking policemen on Sunday.

Statesman News Service | Thiruvananthapuram |

In the wake of reports that some outside forces were behind the violence that let loose on Saturday and Sunday at Vizhinjam by protesters who are agitating against Rs 7,500 crore Vizhinjam international seaport and trans-shipment containment terminal being developed by the Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt Ltd (AVPPL), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been asked to probe into the incidents of unprecedented violence.

The NIA sleuths, who are now camping in Thiruvananthapuram as a part of the probe in connection with the Popular Front of India (PFI) ban, have been asked by the higher authorities in the agency to collect details of the violence, including the attack of the police station that happened on Sunday and has been asked to conduct a probe into the incidents of riot and arson.

The NIA sources said the incidents of violence that happened at Vizhinjam in connection with the construction of the Vizhinjam international port is highly serious. The NIA has taken serious exception to the incidents in which a crowd of 3,000 violent protesters laid siege to the Vizhinjam police station and threatened to set it on fire unless five members of their group were released.

It is learnt that the NIA will probe whether outside forces did play any role in the violence that erupted at Vizhinjam in connection with the protests against port construction. The NIA has also sought the details of the violence from the Kerala Police.

In this connection, it has been reported that the state Intelligence Wing has found that a few leaders of the anti-port committee had conducted confidential meetings with persons who have terrorist connections. State Education Minister V Sivankutty has expressed doubt whether the protesters are getting foreign aid. Sivankutty had alleged on Tuesday that ‘some foreign hand’ is at work behind the Vizhinjam protests

Meanwhile, the Kerala Police have not made any arrests in the case relating to riot and arson at Vizhinjam that happened even after three days. Those who sustained injuries and got admitted to hospitals have also not been arrested. It is learnt that the police have been given instructions not to arrest more persons to avoid further provocation. 

In this connection, the police on Wednesday denied permission to the Hindu Aikyavedi to conduct a procession at Vizhinjam in support of the port construction and against the protests being organised by the priests against the port.

There are people who believe that the LDF government is not serious about the Vizhinjam seaport project. Had it been serious, it would have clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in the entire area to quell the unrest, they say.

Police on Monday registered cases against 3,000 people for vandalizing Vizhinjam police station and attacking policemen on Sunday. Around 30 policemen were injured in the attack, two of them seriously.

The protesters under the Vizhinjam agitation committee protested before the Vizhinjam 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 belong to the Latin Catholic community, around 30 policemen were injured in stone pelting and police station attack. As many as five police vehicles were damaged by the protestors. Media persons were also injured in the commotion. 

The police on Sunday took five persons in custody 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 Adani group, and the People Collective of Mulloor, who are in favour of the port project.

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. Soon, Mulloor residents reached the site and they had a heated argument with the protesters. It later snowballed into a scuffle, with the agitators pelting stones at local residents even after the police and a few priests tried to calm them down.