A violent mob attacked Vizhinjam police station, injuring twenty-five police personnel, of which nine policemen are grievously injured. The attackers also destroyed the wireless sets in the station. To control the marauding mob, police had to to resort to lathi-charged and tear gas twice.
The agitators had blocked the lorries bringing granites to the port construction site. When the pro-port groups arrived to confront the blockers, a violent scuffle ensued in which many were injured. It is reported that nine cases have been registered. As per the FIR, Arch Bishop and other priests met and planned the violent agitations in which about 1,500 people took part.
The agitators also attacked media persons and damaged their equipments. The local media had telecast the voice message of a Latin Catholic priest asking the believers to take to the street in large numbers and to ring the church bell if necessary to mobilise the people. The CPM and the BJP have been alleging that there is suspected involvement of some foreign hands in the anti-port agitations. The BJP believes that there are sinister designs to block the country’s economic development.
It must be emphasised that once the construction is over, Vizhinjam Port will be the deepest port in the whole country. It is going to pave the way for mega goods movements as it is close to the sea route to Far Eastern ports. Therefore, the completion of the port construction will be a shot in the arm for both national and local economy. Adani Group, which has won—fair and square—the contract to construct Vizhinjam Port, was supposed to hand over the completed port to the authorities by December 2022. However, so far, only 60 % work has been completed. Moreover, for the last few months, construction activities have been completely stopped due to the agitations. Even though several meetings have taken place between the agitators and the Kerala ministers, the government has failed to convince the other party about the importance of completing the project.
The intelligence department reportedly got information about the plan to set fire to the police station and unleash violence against the police force. To carry out the attack, it is alleged, small groups were formed under the auspices of Coastal Watch—an organisation of the anti-Vizhinjam port authorities led by Latin Catholic Church. And to coordinate the assault, several WhatsApp groups were also formed.
When the police tried to nip the situation in its bud and five agitators were arrested, more than a thousand people rushed to the police station. The FIR says the attackers threatened to set fire to the station if their ‘fellow believers’ were not set free. They carried lethal weapons, rallied women and children on the front line as human shields, and unleashed mayhem. In the current instance, one can’t help but notice a larger plan to sabotage development projects in India. n