15 priests booked after mob led by Latin Catholic Church halt construction at Vizhinjam port
New Delhi, Nov 28: A group of protesters led by the Latin Catholic Church damaged police cars and injured 29 personnel while protesting against the construction of the Adani Group Port. The incident took place at Vizinjam police station area limits on Sunday night.
The attack by the mob took place after few persons were detained in connection with the violent protests on November 26. The mob attacked the police officers with sticks and stones.
The protesters attempted to block a vehicle by smashing police jeeps. Two police officers suffered injuries while one was sent to a hospital. Reports said that the protesters stopped cars on Saturday carrying supplies and equipment to the Vizhinjam project. The protest turn violent after a handful of project supporters opposed the happenings.
On Sunday charges were filed against at least 15 Latin Catholic priests, including Archbishop Thomas J Netto, Fr. Christudas, Fr. Eugine Perera, and Lawrence Gulas.
The construction on the seaport being developed by the Adani Group restarted following a decision of the court. "It's been 102 days since the work has been halted here due to the protests. We approached the state High Court, which gave us a favourable ruling. The court had asked us to restart the work but this is the situation today also. Now, let the court take a decision," a spokesperson of the company told news agency PTI.
The protesters mainly led by Catholic priests, erected a shelter blocking its entrance and claimed that the development of the port had deprived them of their livelihoods. On August 29 the Kerala high Court ruled that the work at the port cannot be suspended and that any concerns about the project may be lodged at the proper forums.
Protests against the Adani Group's Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose port in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala have been on for sometime with the Catholic Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram taking the lead. The fishermen under its leadership has been making several demands.
The main demand is that the 7,525 crore project be halted as it impacts the environment. They have also demanded that an analysis be conducted before the project can go through.
3,000 persons booked:
In the FIR, police have registered a case against 3,000 identifiable persons including women and children for vandalising the station and injuring police personnel. As many as 40 police personnel and numerous locals were reported to be injured in the violence that ensued, news agency PTI reported.
Police said around 3,000 people gathered at the Vizhinjam police station demanding release of one accused in a case registered on Saturday and other suspects, Leo Stanley, Muthappan, Pushparaj and Shanki, who were under custody.
"The mob reached the police station at around 6 PM with iron rods, sticks, stones and bricks and created a hostage situation inside the police station...They threatened to set the police station ablaze if the accused were not released...They damaged five police vehicles and destroyed the office equipment inside the police station," the FIR said.
It also states that there was a loss of around Rs 85 lakh due to the attack.
Sections of IPC including 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 447 (criminal trespass) and 353 (Assault on public servant) have been invoked.
Thiruvananthapuram City Police Commissioner told the media that the attack on the police station cannot be justified at all.