Police affidavit in HC says priests involved in Vizhinjam violence

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

Kochi: Priests were also involved in the Vizhinjam police station vandalism and the violent incidents over the weekend, according to an affidavit submitted in the High Court by the police.

Breaking the promises given in HC, the protesters, led by the priests, blocked the vehicles to the port and mobilised people including women and children by ringing church bells, it said.

When five people were arrested and eight cases were filed following the violence, a group including priests led by Fr Eugene Pereira attacked the police station.

The affidavit said 64 cops were injured in the incident.

At least 50 people, including policemen and media persons were injured after violence erupted, as per reports. Two police jeeps and a shed were also destroyed.

New cases against Latin Archbishop
Two more cases are filed against Latin Catholic archbishop Thomas Netto, in addition to the already existing three cases in connection with the violence. State Police Chief Anil Kant said that the probe on Vizhinjam police station attack will be conducted in a time-bound manner, and the culprits will be booked soon. 

'Won't forgive Fr Theodocius'

Minister V Abdurahiman said on Thursday that he won't forgive the protest committee convener Fr Theodosius D'Cruz, who made the controversial comment that the minister's “name” is problematic.

The priest's retort was after Abdurahiman said protesters are anti-national.

The priest and the Latin church had expressed regret on Wednesday saying that his statement was a slip of tongue.

Ulterior motives behind the attack: CM

In his first response to the violent incidents at Vizhinjam CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that there were ulterior motives behind the attack.

“It was done with the intention of disrupting peace and coexistence," he said while speaking at the passing out parade of women police constables at Thrissur on Thursday.

"If the vandals were not able to achieve their ends, it was only because of the exemplary and courageous restraint shown by the police. People who expected the police to come down heavily on the agitators could not have been more wrong," he said.

Even though he did not take any names, it was clear his target was the Latin Catholic Church. Vijayan said the attack was pre-planned. "They declared beforehand that they would attack the police station and its officers. These were done with specific motives," he alleged.

NIA visit
Sleuths of the National Investigation Agency had visited Vizhinjam on Wednesday to probe the circumstances that led to the violence.

They visited the Vizhinjam police station to examine whether external forces were involved in the protests.

Police registered 163 cases in connection with the incident.

DIG R Nishanthini, who heads the special police squad probing the violent incidents, said external involvement cannot be confirmed yet.

Troubled port
Envisaged as the country's first container transhipment port, the $900 million project seeks to plug into the lucrative shipping trade flowing between juggernaut manufacturers in the East and wealthy consumer markets in the West, according to a Reuters report.

Fisherfolk in the region has been demanding a halt to the port's construction, an environmental impact study, and rehabilitation of families who lost their homes.

Protestors say the port construction has led to sea erosion endangering their livelihood. The influential Latin Catholic Church is spearheading the agitation.

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