HC closes Adani's petition seeking police protection for Vizhinjam Port

The Adani group and its subcontractor Howe Engineering Projects told the bench headed by Justice Anu Sivaraman that employees faced no restriction at the work site. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Kochi: With the fisherfolks calling off their strike, the Kerala High Court on Monday closed the petition by the Adani group seeking police protection for Vizhinjam Port's employees.

The court on September 1 ordered police to protect the staffers while accessing the work site.

The Adani group and its subcontractor Howe Engineering Projects told the bench headed by Justice Anu Sivaraman that employees faced no restriction at the work site.

On September 1, the Court accepted the petition seeking police protection and observed that "… the right to agitate cannot confer any right on protesters to contend that they have a right to obstruct the activities at the project site and cause damage to public property".

On December 7, the Court also closed the contempt case alleging wilful disobedience of the above order, after the agitators submitted that they have called off the protest.

Once completed, the $900 million Adani Port project at Vizhinjam will be the country's first container transshipment port. It 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.

Fisherfolks in the region had demanded a halt to the port's construction, an environmental impact study, and rehabilitation of families who lost their homes and had staged a protest for 140 days, till December 6. Protesters said the port construction has led to sea erosion endangering their livelihood.

Stir called off temporarily: Church
On Sunday, a circular from the Archbishop was read out in the Latin churches of Thiruvananthapuram, which stated that the Vizhinjam stir was called off temporarily, to reinstate peace.

In his pastoral letter sent to the churches under his diocese, Monsignor Thomas J Netto, Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram, noted the fisherfolks were unhappy with the outcome of the agitation that ran over 100 days.

The letter was read out during the Sunday Mass. It said the State Government did not meet the demands of the community. The stir was called off under pressure due to changed circumstances.

Though the agitators sustained the stir for nearly five months as a 'do or die' fight for survival, their moral standing weakened after the eruption of violence at Mulloor and Vizhinjam on November 26 and 27. The Vizhinjam police station was vandalised, policemen were attacked and stones were pelted at homes.

On top of this vandalism, there were visuals of protesters blocking the way of even ambulances carrying injured policemen.

All of this had robbed the movement of public sympathy. This gave the government a chance to ruthlessly slap grievous non-bailable charges against hundreds of fishermen, especially the youth. Pinarayi thus succeeded in instilling fear in the community.

But what changed the tide in favour of the government firmly was the comment by one of the leaders of the agitation. Fr Theodosius D'Cruz remarked that there was a terrorist in the very name of Fisheries Minister V Abdurahiman. This was universally condemned.

All of a sudden, the Latin Church became purveyors of communal hate. What was sought to be built up as a heroic struggle lost its moral centre.

(With Live Law inputs)

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.