Congress march to DGP office in Kerala turns violent

Thiruvananthapuram: The capital city turned into a war field after the protest march taken out by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) towards the state police headquarters against the statewide police highhandedness on Youth Congress activists during Nava Kerala Sadas turned violent on Saturday.

KPCC president K Sudhakaran, MPs, and MLAs were shifted to the hospital after they experienced uneasiness over the spontaneous tear gas shell attack from the police.

Several activists, including women and journalists, fell unconscious during the tear gas attack. TNIE lensman Vincent Pulickal was injured in the stone pelting, and he has been shifted to the hospital.

The Congress leadership registered a strong protest against the police move and said that the police had violated the standard procedure by using water cannons and tear gas shells.

The protest march led by K Sudhakaran and opposition leader VD Satheesan began at 11 am and reached Althara around 11.30 am. The police had erected barricades at Althara junction. The Congress leadership had set up a protest venue at Althara Junction for the public function.

It was KPCC chief K Sudhakaran who inaugurated the function. When Satheesan started his speech, some activists attempted to push the police barricades. This prompted the police to use water cannons. In retaliation, the activists pelted stones at the police, and the police hurled tear gas shells eight times. Soon, many activists turned back and ran away. The leaders who were on the protest stage suffered breathlessness and eye pain.

Following the tear gas attack, the activists shifted the leaders, including Sudhakaran, to the Sree Rama Krishna Mission Hospital at Sasthamangalam.

As per reports, Anwar Sadhath MLA, Jeby Mather MP, and Chandy Oommen are currently at the hospital. However, the activists continued to remain at the spot. Later, leaders like M. Liju and M Vincent came and dispersed the protesters.

MPs Kodikunnil Suresh and Shashi Tharoor strongly condemned the police action. They said that the police attack was premeditated and that it was without any provocation.

“There are some protocols for using water cannons and tear gas shells. The police have violated this. I have called the DGP. He told me that he was unaware and would take prompt action. I will point this out in Parliament in the coming session. I still have the burning sensation on my face due to the shell attack,” Tharoor said.

Speaking to the media at the hospital, K Sudhakaran said ‘police goons’ of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan were behind the violence. According to K Muraleedharan MP, the attack was out of desperation by Pinarayi Vijayan due to the failure of the Nava Kerala Sadas.

The Congress leaders later staged a sit-in in front of the KPCC office at Vellayambalam for around half an hour.