Tension at Vizhinjam as police block food for protesters

Tension escalated at Mullur in Thiruvananthapuram, the hub of fishermen’s protests against the Vizhinjam seaport, on Monday as the police, deployed in the area to prevent untoward incidents in the project site, blocked the entry of a vehicle carrying food to the protesters at the venue.

In the morning, the protesters who reached the venue in vehicles from different areas barged onto the port premises disrupting the port activities.

They went close to the under-construction breakwater inside the port and greeted the fishermen who laid siege to the port from the sea from the breakwater. Later, they refused to go outside the project site and squatted inside the port. Though the police asked them to vacate the place, the protestors said they would leave the place by evening.

In the meantime, the police blocked the entry of a vehicle carrying food to the port premise, sparking tension between the protesters and police. Following this, more protesters assembled in the area. By evening, the protesters refused to go back and they were supplied with foldable cots and mats by other protesters. The police then intervened and forcibly took away the cots and mats, leading to a minor scuffle between protesters and the police.

Alleging that the police kicked down three priests during the scuffle, a hunger strike was launched by Fr. Theodosius D’Cruz of the Latin archdiocese, seeking action against the police.

Later a discussion led by the District Collector and City Police Commissioner assured that the police involved in the incident, including a Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, and a civil police officer, would not be deployed for duty in the area again.

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The meeting also promised that action would be taken against them if a formal complaint is submitted. Following this, the hunger strike was withdrawn and the protesters came out to the venue outside the port.

Meanwhile, a dawn-to-dusk black day observed by a local collective in protest against the fishermen’s strike against the Vizhinjam seaport evoked a mixed response in three villages near the project site.

While a section of shoppers in the area around the project site downed shutters in response to the black day call by the local collective, which bats for the port project, the response was mixed in other areas.

The fishermen and their families have been disrupting the port activities for the 14th consecutive day on Monday demanding to stop the construction of the port alleging that construction has aggravated the coastal erosion along the coast.

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