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Protests turn violent in Vizhinjam; 4 out of 5 released from custody, all-party meet to be held today

 

Thiruvananthapuram: The anti-port protest in Vizhinjam turned violent on Sunday night after the protesters surrounded the police station demanding the release of those who were taken into custody in connection with the clash on Saturday. Around 2,000 fishermen marched to the police station on Sunday night and vandalised the front office. Atleast 36 policemen have suffered injuries in the clashes and 8 among them are reportedly in serious condition.

Meanwhile, 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. Meanwhile, Celton, who was arrested in connection with the protests, was remanded in judicial custody. The other four had reached the station to demand his release. An all-party meeting will be held on Monday to restore peace in the area.

Conciliatory talks will be held with coastal residents, archdiocese representatives and the district collector on Monday morning. A fresh case will also be registered against the police station attack. 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.

According to the protest committee, around 30 protesters, including priests, suffered injuries in the attack. The angry mob also tore off FIR documents. ‘At present, the situation is under control’, said ADGP MR Ajith Kumar. The church leadership reportedly held talks with the collector and police commissioner on Sunday night. ‘Peace was prioritised in the first phase of talks and the discussions will continue’, said Fr. Eugene Pereira.

Meanwhile, the protesters vandalised four police vehicles during the clashes. A policeman suffered a broken leg while others were detained in the police station. The police fired tear gas three times but the crowd did not disburse or back off. The clashes continued till late Sunday night. The protesters also interrupted traffic in the area and blocked entry for journalists. 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.

Meanwhile, 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. The protest against the Adani port in Vizhinjam turned violent on Saturday after clashes erupted between protesters and police officers over attempts to resume the port construction activities.

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