Crackdown on K-Rail protest, hartal in Changanassery on Friday

Police removed the protesters including women by force, triggering tension in the area for hours. Screengrab/MMTV

Kottayam: The attempt of the K-Rail authorities to install survey stones to demarcate land for the SilverLine semi-high speed rail project met with severe resistance from the local people at Madappally, near Changanassery, in Kottayam district on Thursday. The protesters were removed by the police using force, with several women even dragged to the police vehicle.

Tension prevailed in the area near Reethupalli at Mundukuzhy for more than one hour, before the agitators were arrested and removed to the Thrikkodithanam police station. After the area was cleared of protesters, K-Rail (Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd.) officials resumed the planting of the stones.

UDF workers at the police station. Photo: Manorama

Among those who led the agitation included former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Joseph M Puthussery and Kerala Congress leader V J Laly, who is also the chairman of the agitation committee against K-Rail. Several protestors and leaders were injured during the confrontation with the police. Lali experienced unease at the police station.

Later, a siege of the Thrikkodithanam police station was launched in protest against the police action and demanding the release of the arrested people. Call for a hartal in Changanassery assembly constituency from 6am to 6pm on Friday was also issued by the agitation committee over the high-handedness of the police.

Meanwhile, Shafi Parambil, MLA, demanded action against the police personnel who had attacked the protesters, including women. Dragging women to police vehicles in front of children cannot be justified, he said. When major developmental projects are planned, the state government should take the affected people into confidence, rather than brutally cracking down on protesters, he said.

UDF boycotts Kerala Assembly
The opposition Congress-led UDF boycotted the Kerala Assembly proceedings on Thursday protesting the police action against locals who opposed the laying of survey stones for the Silver Line project in Kottayam district.

The MLAs staged a sit-in at the portal of the Assembly hall and raised slogans against the government alleging police high-handedness against common people especially women during the agitation today.

Terming the incident as "most unfortunate", former CM Oommen Chandy urged the government to backtrack from the project as it does not have the Centre's nod. "The central government has already made it clear that they have not accorded any sanction for the project. Then why is the state government going ahead with the project?" he asked.

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