Sunday, December 10, 2023

Clashes during PFI strike pre-planned, will punish guilty: Kerala CM Vijayan

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Kerala saw widespread violence on Friday during a strike organised by the Popular Front of India (PFI), but chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed on Saturday that the disruption was premeditated and that those responsible would not get away with it.

When protesters held the state ransom, the opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party questioned the government’s persistent quiet and criticised the police’s inactivity. Police were criticised for standing by silently in multiple locations.

Speaking to reporters in the state capital, Vijayan said that the majority of the troublemakers arrived with their faces covered and vandalised government property at random. “The state has never seen such a level of violence in recent memory. We won’t be kind to the offenders. We will pursue those who incited such unrest in addition to those who were directly involved”, he added, noting that many times the accused have been recognised.

On Friday, there was a level of violence never before witnessed in the state. Up to 70 government buses were destroyed, explosives were thrown at various locations, stores and businesses were forced to shut down, and many people were harmed by stone pelting. According to the police, 819 of the 1013 PFI activists who have been detained thus far were done so as a preventative measure. 290 cases were registered by the police.

Former cabinet minister and BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said that the violence was the fault of the Left Front administration. Speaking to reporters in the state capital, he claimed that while searches were undertaken in 15 states, only Kerala saw such brutality while the administration remained mute.

“The state had a terrible day. Government apparatus was nowhere to be found while rioting hooligans held the state hostage, according to Javadekar. How is it possible for the administration to ignore such lawlessness? He said that the state administration was reluctant to act out of concern about a blow to its support base.

According to Javadekar, the CPI(M) and PFI were complicit in the violence. Such events should have been prevented, he argued, if the government had acted forcefully. Additionally, PFI activists bombed the Kannur office of the RSS. Without the governing dispensation’s endorsement, such actions will never take place.

Congress state opposition leader V D Satheesan criticised the chief minister’s silence. “While the state was experiencing massive violence, the administration was nowhere to be found. He declared, “The CM’s silence is truly curious.”

The Kerala High Court has also requested a thorough report from the state administration by October 17 on its intentions to recoup the enormous costs incurred as a result of the closure. The court ruled that punishment must be severe and swift.

For disobeying its prior order prohibiting flash shutdowns, the court filed a contempt action against the PFI and its office bearers on Friday. In many regions of the state, masked individuals went on the rampage, stoned government buses, attacked police officers, and vandalised businesses.

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