Protests erupt in Kochi, Kozhikode against laying of K-Rail survey stones; Madappally hartal peaceful

Madappally protest
UDF leaders at Madappally.

Kochi: The protest against installation of survey stones for the Kerala government's proposed SilverLine semi high speed rail project continues in Ernakulam, Kottayam and Kozhikode districts.

Local residents, including women and children, on Friday disrupted the laying of the stones in the land identified for the project in Kallai in Kozhikode district and Mamala near Thiruvankulam in Ernakulam district.

In Kallai, the police and the protesters engaged in a rough tussle for a brief time when the government officials reached the areas designated for the project. They blocked the road for preventing the officials from entering the premises. Large number of police personnel was deployed in the area.

Meanwhile, in Mamala, the protest was erupted when the revenue and K-Rail officials reached the spot. The proposed railway line passes through some residential plots in the area.

However, the officials have managed to lay some survey stones with the help of the police. The survey stones were also laid on the same plots, which were surveyed for Kochi-Theni highway project years ago.

Hartal in Madappally

Meanwhile, the hartal announced by the protesters in Changanassery on Friday was peaceful. However, the protesters forcefully shut down some banks and shops in the area. Long-distance buses were allowed to ply through the area.

Earlier in the day, protesters and opposition parties carried out marches in Madappally. They also removed some of the survey stones installed on Thursday.

Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan and other opposition leaders visited Madappally and areas where the stones were laid by the K-Rail officials. V D Satheesan extended the Opposition's full support to the protesting residents.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, former Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala and Kerala Congress leader P J Joseph were among those who visited Madappally.

Local residents comprising women on Thursday disrupted the laying of survey stones in the land identified for the project at Madappally, prompting the police to use force to remove them.

K Rail hartal
Local people gathered at Changanassery as part of the hartal on Friday.

It all started when the officials reached Madappally village to lay stones as part of the land acquisition for the multi-crore initiative. Soon the locals gathered in the area and their protest turned violent. A large number of people including women raised "go back" slogans against the officials. The police removed the protesters by force, triggering tension in the area for hours.

They alleged the protesting women were dragged on the road and their children were horrified watching the "violent action" by the police. Several people were injured in the police action, they claimed.

Police said they intervened after some protesters, carrying cans of kerosene, threatened to self-immolate. The protesters were removed using force.

Survey polls uprooted by protesters at Madappally.

A large number of people, led by local leaders of the UDF and BJP, also gathered at the police station seeking to release the people taken into custody.

The 'samarasamithi, the forum which coordinates protests against the project, gave a call for a dawn-to-dusk 'hartal' in Changanassery, a municipal town in Kottayam, on Friday over the issue. The Congress and the BJP also backed the hartal.

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