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‘Vizhinjam violence was premeditated, with ulterior motive’: Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday condemned the recent large-scale violence against the upcoming port project in Vizhinjam, saying the violence was premeditated and that such agitations were aimed at destroying peace in the state.

“There were ulterior motives behind the attack on the police station. It was done with the intention of destroying the peace in the area. Some of them even made open threats,” the chief minister said in Thrissur, his first public statement on the violence in south Kerala’s Vizhinjam during a protest against the development of a trans-shipment terminal by Adani Group.

On Sunday, protesters stormed the Vizhinjam police station to demand the release of protesters detained in connection with a minor incident of violence on Saturday, held the policemen hostage and vandalised government and private vehicles. At least 35 police personnel and 30 protestors were injured in the clashes that broke out, leading to damage to property worth 1 crore.

Vijayan complimented the police for its handling of the violence. “Many expected police to come down heavily on protestors but that would have created more problems. The way they tackled the situation is really commendable,” he said.

The chief minister, who described the violence as a premeditated incident, said some people had made open threats to attack the police station and set it afire. “There is no doubt, these incidents show specific motives,” he said, vowing stringent action against the perpetrators of violence.

Vijayan’s stress on action against the people involved in Sunday’s violence comes against the backdrop of opposition criticism that the state government was soft on the protesters led by the Latin Catholic church that led the movement against the port.

Left Democratic Front convener EP Jayarajan said the attempt to scuttle the port project will only benefit foreign forces and sought a probe into what he said was “a multinational conspiracy” to sabotage the project. CPM’s Kozhikode district secretary P Mohanan asked the government to probe the funding of the agitation.

The state police said that more than 175 cases have been registered in connection with the violence in which several church leaders are accused. A first information report (FIR) has also been registered against Vizhinjam protest committee convenor Father Thedocious D’Cruz for his November 29 statement in which he called fisheries minister V Abdurahiman “a big anti-national” and a “rabid communal”. The FIR said the priest, who has since then retracted the statement, was trying to communalise the issue and divide people along communal lines.

Police said cases have also been registered against Hindu Munnani leader KP Sasikala and 700 others for organising a protest near the port site despite a ban on large gatherings.

“We have started indentifying trouble-makers. Their arrests will be done quickly,” said Kerala director general of police Anil Kant. The top state police officer, however, declined to commit himself on the role of foreign elements, saying the police will inquire all aspects including this.

The project started in 2015 and the deadline for the first phase was 2019. But Cyclone Ockhi and scarcity of stone boulders delayed the project and it is now targeted to be commissioned by October 2023. The work, however, has been impacted due to the protests for the last four months.


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