On Monday, sporadic incidents of violence and damage to property were reported from different parts of the state during an unofficial bandh invoked on social media protesting the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old child in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. Today, two days later, anticipating further violence, the Kozhikode police chief has issued prohibitory orders within city limits for a week, banning any kind of public assemblies, rallies or the transport of weapons and explosives.
The order, issued by Kozhikode district police chief S Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar, cites a special branch intelligence report portending violence and attempts to break the religious harmony in the city. Under sections 78, 79 of the Kerala Police Act, prohibitory orders have been issued starting at 6 pm on April 18 (Wednesday) and running till April 25. Provocative slogans, banners and placards aimed at breaking religious amity and fanning communal violence cannot be used in the city. The police said it will cut down on any kind of public rallies, gatherings or protest marches.
There are reports that attempts are being made on social media to hold public gatherings ‘in the name of fighting Hindutva groups’ under a collective hashtag called #ChaloKozhikode. However, the date or time of the proposed gatherings have not been mentioned. The police’s decision to announce prohibitory orders in Kozhikode city is seen as a response to such calls.
Monday saw several incidents of violence, especially in the northern Kerala districts such as Kozhikode, Malappuram and Kannur when groups of people gathered at major junctions to protest the gangrape of the eight-year-old child in Kathua. What were meant to be peaceful demonstrations, however, got out of hand as these groups blocked vehicles, engaged in scuffles and forcibly shut down shops in several areas. The police said 30 of its officers and several drivers of state transport buses were injured in the violence. There was widespread damage to public property as well. Nearly 250 people in the state were taken into custody. The police warned the public against invoking bandhs without prior intimation as it could end up being misused by extremist and anti-social elements.