Anti-Adani Kerala sea port protest: 3,000 booked over alleged police station attack at Vizhinjam, all-party meeting today

While the police has stated that the protesters had provoked the violence, the representative of the protesters’ has stated that the “violence was scripted by the ruling party with help of the BJP”

Fishermen belonging to the Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese burn their boats during a protest against the Vizhinjam port project, at Mulloor, Thiruvananthapuram, October 27, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo 

A large crowd of agitators is reported to have “attacked” the Vizhinjam police station in Thiruvananthapuram in protest against the construction of Adani port, allegedly injuring at least 29 policemen and damaging police vehicles reported PTI. Some unconfirmed media reports suggest that some priests of the Catholic church are supporting the protesters.

While more details are not yet known, PTI has stated that “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 protests on November 26.” On Constitution Day, November 26, fisherfolk belonging to the minority community protested the loss of livelihood that would follow the construction of this project, something that has been opposed given that Trivandum already has a successful and viable sea port already.” At least 29 policemen have been injured and admitted to various hospitals,” a special branch police official told PTI. Another media report states that “as many as 36 policemen and around 20 agitators were injured in the violence, which rocked the Vizhinjam region on Sunday night.”

Archbishop among 15 priests booked for Adani port stir

Considering the sensitive situation prevailing in the area, the Kerala government has deployed more police officials from other districts. The agitators also reportedly 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. John has been shifted to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.Meanwhile, the district administration has initiated peace talks with the church authorities and its representative, Fr Eugene Perera, said the church wants to maintain peace. “We will speak to the protesters. I came here to resolve the matter in a peaceful manner,” he told the media.

Senior officials, including the district collector, city police commissioner and sub-collector, have called a reconciliatory meeting with the protesters at Kovalam animation centre. The church authorities and government officials are expected to talk to the media after the meeting. The police have also arranged tight security in the Vizhinjam region.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Police on Monday. November 28,  registered two separate FIRs, In the second, a case against 3,000 persons in connection with the fishermen’s attack Sunday night on a police station at Vizhinjam, where they have been protesting against Adani Group’s Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited. The FIR said the protesters wanted the police to release five men who were taken into custody over Saturday’s violence and threatened to torch the policemen alive if they were not released. The police department incurred a loss of Rs 85 lakh, it said.

This FIR states that 3,000 people laid siege to the police station, held the officials hostage for several hours, vandalised the furniture and damaged several vehicles parked on the premises of the station. It said the protesters wanted to release five men who were taken into custody over Saturday’s violence and threatened to torch the policemen alive if they were not released. The police department incurred a loss of Rs 85 lakh from the attack, the FIR said.

The first FIR for Saturday’s “violence” filed by the police booked Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop Thomas Netto, auxiliary bishop R Kristudas and several priests of the archdiocese. The complaint states that the violence took place during the fishermen’s protest against Adani’s bid to resume work. Among those named in the FIR, names include at least 15 Catholic priests, including metropolitan archbishop Thomas J Netto and Perera, over the violence at Vizhinjam on Saturday. The archbishop was made the first accused in the FIR. However, in the second FIR, the police did not name anyone in the FIR registered in connection with Sunday’s attack on the police station.

Interestingly, the Vizhinjam Action Council Convener Fr Eugene Pereira alleged the violence was scripted by the ruling CPI(M) with the backing of external elements, including the BJP. “We are challenging the government to order a judicial probe into the incidents in the last two days. Police had provoked the fishermen. On Sunday, the police took into custody person who was not involved in Saturday’s attack. Later, when four others went to the station to enquire about the custody of a fisherman, they were also detained at the station, leading to the tension,’’ he said.

Kerala State Port Development Minister Ahamed Devarkovil said an all-party meeting would be held on Monday. “The district collector was asked to convene an all-party meeting to ensure peace in the region. He would also hold discussions with the agitators. The issue is coming up before the high court on Monday. The government would also consider the outcome from the high court before deciding further action. The agitators had given an assurance at the high court that they would not obstruct the construction. Now, that assurance to the court has been breached,’’ he said.

The ADGP M R Ajit Kumar told the Indian Express that the situation was under control and no untoward incident was reported on Monday. Of the five fishermen taken into custody, four of them were released on bail from the station, while another person was remanded in judicial custody, he said.

It may be recalled, that fishermen who have a successful livelihood that is being directly threatened, have been protesting against the Rs 7,500-crore project for more than the last four months, alleging that its construction caused massive sea erosion, leading to loss of livelihood and dwellings. The state government has recently formed an expert committee, but the fishermen’s demand for including their representative in the panel was rejected. They wanted the construction to be suspended until the study report, a demand rejected by the Government.

The agitation turned violent on Saturday after Adani Group, which wanted to resume the construction which had been stopped for the last three months. It resumed the construction Saturday in the wake of a high court order, which had prevented the agitators from obstructing the work and asked the state government to provide police protection. Over two dozen trucks which came with boulders for the construction of the breakwater had to be taken back from the project site due to the stiff resistance from the fishermen. A local people’s committee in favour of the project, under the aegis of Hindu organisations, has also joined the issue, against the agitating fishermen. Both sides had clashed on Saturday.


Opposition to the Vizhinjam Port Project must be seen in the wider context of protecting coastal ecology and communities

Kerala fisherfolk’s persistent battle against the seaport development project

Kerala against Adani takeover of Trivandrum International Airport

Indian Fishworkers protest at 23 ports and harbours against proposed shipping corridor

Why We Must Say No to Vizhinjam Project



Related Articles