Vizhinjam clash: Latin Church accuses govt of playing by a script, conciliatory talks to be held soon

Vizhinjam Police Station Clash
Police forces assemble in front of Vizhinjam police station after a clash with protestors on November 27, 2022. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: The police on Monday released four out of the five men who were arrested as part of the violence on November 26 at the entrance of the Vizhinjam port site.

One of the accused Celton has been remanded to custody. The other four had reached the station to demand his release. 

A mob of agitators led by the Latin Catholic church had attacked the Vizhinjam police station on Sunday night demanding the release of the five arrested.

Meanwhile, the police have registered case against 3,000 people who can be identified for the clash at the police station on Sunday night. None of the accused are named in the FIR. Assets worth Rs 85 lakh were destroyed in the clash, the FIR stated.

The conciliatory meeting called by the district administration after clash at the Vizhinjam police station ended here on Sunday night with the church authorities agreeing to disperse the protesters without creating further trouble.

The meeting, called by the district collector and attended by the city police commissioner and other senior officials of the district with the church authorities will continue on Monday at 3.30pm.

Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, M R Ajith Kumar told the media that around 36 police officers are admitted to various hospitals of the city after getting injured in the attack by the mob which vandalised the police station on Sunday evening.

Protestors stop truck carrying construction materials for Vizhinjam port. Photo: Manorama

The mob targeted the police station using sticks and bricks, and attacked police officers after a person was arrested and a few others were taken into custody in connection with the violent protests on November 26.

A few police officers suffered serious head injuries in the attack.

Kumar said there was no provocation on behalf of the police and they were trying to maintain law and order of the region by exercising maximum restraint before resorting to lathi charge and tear gas to disperse the violent mob.

Govt's script, says Latin Archdiocese

Meanwhile, Latin Archdiocese alleged that the Vizhinjam conflict was 'scripted' by the State Government. Protestors panel general convenor Fr Eugene H Pereira, who attended the reconciliatory meeting on behalf of the protesters said, ‘external factors’ are behind the tensions. “Their aim was to undermine the protest against the port construction.”

"The Police attacked even the priests. We defended after continuous provocations. State Government and Adani work hand in hand in the move to sabotage the protest," said Eugine Pereira.

"A judicial inquiry must be ordered into the uprising in Vizhinjam. We challenge the Government to declare a judicial probe into the matter," he added.

Fr Eugene Pereira also alleged that the CPM district secretary – BJP president tie-up is mysterious.

The priest said the facts of the cases have to be verified with regard to the violence and the church representatives will attend Monday's meeting called by the collector.

He alleged the shadow police wing of the police department grabbed five persons without saying anything, which provoked the locals.

The CPM stated that the protest turning violent at Vizhinjam, including what happened on Sunday, are part of a move to trigger a riot.

The protestors’ panel is responsible for the conflicts, said CPM district secretary Anavoor Nagappan. Five out of six demands put forth by the protestors have been approved, he added.

More police force deployed

Meanwhile, ADGP Ajith Kumar said around 600 policemen were already deployed in the region and around 300 more were added to them.

Considering the sensitive situation prevailing in the area, the Kerala government has deployed more police officials from the other districts also.

The agitators also attacked media persons who were present at the site. ACV local channel camera person, Sherif M John was attacked by the protesters, who damaged his camera and snatched his cellphone. He has been shifted to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.

Earlier in the day, the state police lodged an FIR against at least 15 Latin Catholic priests over the violence at Vizhinjam on Saturday.

The FIR drawn up by the Vizhinjam police shows Archbishop Fr Thomas J Netto himself as the first accused. The Auxiliary Bishop, Fr Christudas Rajappan, is the second accused and the convenor of the agitation Fr Eugene Pereira is the third. The first 15 names in the FIR are the top spiritual leaders of the Latin community in the Thiruvananthapuram district.

None of them, including Fr Eugene, was present at the protest venue when the violence broke out.

(With PTI inputs.)


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