Thiruvananthapuram: After day-long violence on Friday, during which government offices and policemen were attacked over the federal government’s notification of an environment report aimed at protecting the Western Ghats, more violence was reported in the state today.
In the latest incident, a liquor bar was set afire in Thamarassery, which was also the focal point of violence on Friday. One staff member of the bar was injured in the incident and was taken to hospital, while other staff rushed out in time to avert a major disaster. Four bikes parked near the bar were also burned.
The widespread violence across the state was stoked by fears that tens of thousands of people will be affected by the implementation of the Kasturirangan report which suggests various measures to protect the ecologically fragile areas of the Western Ghats, part of which runs through Kerala.
State chief Minister Oommen Chandy assured Keralites that the report “will not be implemented in a hurry” and the federal environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan has announced a postponement of the report’s implementation by four months, but these assurances have so far failed to quell protests.
Idukki and Wayanad districts observed a strike on Saturday, and on Monday the opposition Left Democratic Front has called for a state-wide shutdown. The Syro-Malabar church has taken a strong stand against the implementation of the report, as has the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Following up on the violence related to the hartal in Kozhikode on Friday, police have taken cases against 1,500 people. State intelligence reports have said that some anti-social elements backing the quarry and sand-mining operators infiltrated the protestors and were responsible for the carnage on Friday at Adivaram in Kozhikode. Police have identified a dozen trucks in which those who perpetrated the violence moved around on Friday, and are on the lookout to arrest those who travelled in those trucks.
In unprecedented violence on Friday, police were besieged by stone-pelting protestors for hours together and police had to lob tear gas shells and fire into the air in a desperate attempt to disperse the violent mob and take injured policemen to hospital.
State government offices were attacked by protestors, who singled out forest department offices for stone-pelting. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy reminded people that the Kasturirangan report did not envisage any eviction of people from their homes or any imposition of restrictions on farming activities.