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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

24 migrant workers arrested for attack on police in Kochi

The incident happened after a police team went to Kizhakkambalam to check on clashes that erupted between migrant workers during Christmas celebrations.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: December 27, 2021 3:47:53 am
Charred remains of a police vehicle after migrant workers allegedly clashed among themselves on Saturday, in Kochi. (PTI)

Twenty-four migrant workers were arrested on Sunday after they attacked a police team, which went to contain a clash that erupted among the workers during Christmas celebrations in Kochi, police said.

The incident took place at the labour camp of Kitex garments located in Kizhakkambalam area on Saturday night, police said.

“Of the arrested, 18 were made accused in attempt to murder case registered in connection with the attack on police and six others for case related to destroying police vehicles. More arrests would be made after ascertaining the involvement of other workers in the camp,” Ernakulam rural SP K Karthik said.

Earlier in the day, police said it took 150-odd workers into custody to identify who attacked officers and torched police vehicles Saturday night. An inspector was among five policemen who were injured. The seriously injured were hospitalised, Karthik said.

Kitex Group managing director, Sabu M Jacob said that the labour camp has 1,200 migrant workers. “The workers from Nagaland and Manipur conducted a Christmas carol on Saturday night at the camp… As it was late at night, another section of workers questioned the event, leading to a clash among the workers. The incident is unprecedented at the camp. They might have gone on a rampage under the influence of drugs or liquor,” Jacob said.

He said the security at the camp could not control the situation as the workers targeted them as well, so later police was called in. However, the workers attacked the police as well, Jacob said.

Kerala Labour Minister V Sivankutty said apart from the police, the Labour department would also probe into the incident. “What we realise is that workers rioted during the Christmas celebrations. The district labour officer has begun the probe. It is a stray incident and things are under control,” he said.

Meanwhile, the CPI(M) and Congress blamed Kitex for the violence. Notably, Kitex has been ruling Kizhakkambalam village panchayat since 2015 after fielding candidates under the banner of its charitable organisation Twenty20. It did so after defeating both CPI(M) and Congress.

Local CPI(M) legislator P V Sreenijin said the company management cannot evade responsibility for the incident. “It must be checked if any lethal weapons are stocked at the labour camp. When the [state] government acted upon the complaints from local people against the workers, Kitex tried to raise a hue and cry saying that the government is harassing investors and hence, the officials had to recoil from the inspections at the company,’’ he said. he was referring to the inspections several state departments conducted at the Kitex premises in Sept. The company later shifted its proposed apparel park to Telangana, alleging that Kerala is not investor-friendly.

Congress leader and MP Benny Behanan also said the “role of Twenty20 in the violence should be looked into”.

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