Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday claimed that the violence that erupted during an ongoing protest against the Adani port project in Vizhinjam was planned, Onmanorama reported.
“Clearly, there were ulterior motives behind the attack,” Vijayan said. “It was done with the intention of disrupting peace and co-existence.”
Fishermen, under the aegis of the Latin Catholic diocese of Thiruvananthapuram, have been protesting for the last few months against the Rs 7,500-crore project led by billionaire Gautam Adani’s ports business. They have alleged that the project is causing coastal erosion and hit their livelihoods.
The protest took a violent turn on Saturday after demonstrators prevented the Adani Group from resuming construction at the project site, which has been suspended for the last four months. The construction at the port was resumed on the directions of the Kerala High Court.
On Sunday, a first information report was registered against Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop Thomas Netto, Auxiliary Bishop R Kristudas and 13 other Latin Catholic priests in connection with Saturday’s violence.
The fishermen community also alleged that the police took five men in custody.
Later that day, the protestors attacked the Vizhinjam police station, demanding the release of those arrested. According to the police, the protestors held officials hostage, vandalised furniture and damaged several vehicles parked on the police station premises. According to the police, 36 personnel were injured.
Subsequently, a case was filed against 3,000 persons in connection with the violence.
On Thursday, Vijayan claimed that the protestors had beforehand declared they would attack the police station.
“If the vandals were not able to achieve their ends, it was only because of the exemplary and courageous restraint shown by the police,” the chief minister said, according to Onmanorama. “People who expected the police to come down heavily on the agitators could not have been more wrong.”