Vizhinjam clash: Fuming Latin Church terms Pinarayi Vijayan 'worst CM in history'

Fr Theodacious D'Cruz, convenor of the Vizhinjam port strike committee. Screengrab: Manorama News

Thiruvananthapuram: The Latin Church has strongly criticised the move of the police to book anti-Vizhinjam port agitators, including priests, following the clash that broke out on Saturday.

"Kerala currently has the worst chief minister and cabinet in history. The conflict in Vizhinjam is happening with the connivance of the government," said Fr Theodacious D'Cruz, who is the convenor of the strike committee.

Latin Archdiocese Archbishop Dr Thomas J Netto has been booked as the primary accused, and Auxiliary Bishop Dr Christudas, second. Around 50 priests have been named accused in the incident.

The FIR states that the archbishop and the priests conspired to unleash chaos at the construction site. They've also been charged with the destruction of public property worth Rs 2 lakh.

The Vizhinjam police on Sunday slapped cases against both anti- and pro-Vizhinjam Port agitators for the violence that erupted after the Latin Church-led anti-port protesters blocked a convoy of 25 trucks carrying granite to the port site on November 26, Saturday. The trucks were blocked at the entrance of the port.

The blockade escalated into fistfights and stone pelting after pro-port agitators quickly descended at the port entrance. The violence left more than 20 injured, of whom 16 belonged to the anti-port group. It was the 130th day of their indefinite protest.

Besides the complaint they received from local residents, Vizhinjam police also filed a suo motu case in the incident.

"Accused one through 15 were not directly present at the site of the conflict. However, they conspired and gathered over 1,000 people to reach Mulloor and create issues, bypassing the instructions of the government and the High Court," stated the FIR.

Around 96 individuals have been named accused in the case. Sections charged against them include attempt to murder, conspiracy, unlawful assembly, incitement to violence, destruction of public property etc.

Priests leading the anti-port protesters, including the convenor of the agitation, Fr Eugene Pereira, were also booked under various sections.

In this backdrop, sources close to Adani Vizhinjam Port Limited (AVPL) said that work on the port would be halted. The company wants the Court to take a call as it was the assurance of the High Court that prompted the company to resume construction.

The protesters had on November 22 assured the high court that they will not block any vehicles coming to the Vizhinjam seaport. The high court had on that day warned the protesters that stern action will be taken against them if they failed to remove the obstructions.

The Adani Group, which is constructing the seaport, said the works restarted on Saturday based on the high court order.

The port, a Kerala government initiative, is currently being developed in a landlord model with a Public Private Partnership component on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis. The private partner, Adani Vizhinjam Port Private Limited, commenced the construction on December 5, 2015, with a cost of Rs 7,525 crore.

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