Police in Kerala on Sunday allegedly assaulted 300-odd people, among them women and children, who were protesting the setting up of an IOC LPG import terminal near Kochi.
The alleged police action, that happened a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his government would go ahead with development projects disregarding protests, evoked protests from the ruling Left and Opposition parties.
The CPI said Vijayan should confess that he cannot control the police. CPI (M) veteran V S Achuthanandan demanded that Deputy Police Commissioner Yatish Chandra, who allegedly led the action against the agitators, be suspended.
The state human rights commission sought a report from the Kochi police on their action. Local people at Elankunnappuzha village panchayat, near Kochi, have been on the war path against the construction of the LPG terminal at Puthuvype. The IOC wants to make storage tanks for LGP, which would be pumped to the coast from vessels.
The agitation is under the banner of the Puthuvype LPG Terminal Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithi. Its chairman M B Jayaghosh said the Samithi was against the terminal being made in the densely populated area. “We won’t allow the plant to come up at Puthuvype. It would pose threat to 1,000 families residing within a 1 km radius of the project. They also fear the fishing activities would be affected.’’
On Sunday, around 300 people started a sit-in in front of the project site. The police tried to remove the agitators and ended up in a lathi-charge.Thirty-two people are injured.
As the matter snowballed into a law-and-order issue, Ernakulam Collector K Muhammed Safirulla said the IOC has temporarily decided to defer the work as the CM has decided to conduct a meeting with all stakeholders on June 21.
This is the second clash between agitators and police within a week. On June 15, the police had detained some agitators, including children, at a police station for several hours.