THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After a high drama and impasse that lasted hours, the residents of Vilappil panchayat foiled the move of the City Corporation and the district administration to transport garbage to the Vilappilsala waste treatment plant on Monday. Hundreds of people had gathered at the Temple Junction on the road leading to the waste treatment plant from 8 am. The slogan-shouting agitators, mostly women and children, then fanned across the road blocking traffic.
ADM Girija and a large police posse led by Rural SP Thomas Kutty and Nedumangad DySP Muhammed Shafi were camping in the area from morning. The long wait of the agitators came to an end when two garbage trucks reached the spot in tight police security by noon. The SP and the DySP appealed to the people to remain calm and to allow the Corporation officials to carry out their duty.
As the gathering was in no mood to relent, the police started rounding up the agitators by 1 pm. The arrested persons were taken to the nearby Vilappilsala UP School, where they were detained. Trouble began when the fourth vehicle carrying the agitators was stone-pelted by some youth hardly a hundred metres away from the Temple Junction. The police who rushed to the spot lathi-charged and lobbed tear gas shells at the youth. The area soon turned into a battlefield with the youth pelting stones at vehicles and blocking the road with electric posts and stones.
Sensing that the situation was going out of control, the ADM contacted the District Collector and later announced that Section 144 had been imposed in Vilappil. Soon, the Samithi also announced a hartal in the area on Tuesday.
At the main venue, the Samithi office-bearers were seen appealing to the agitators to remain calm and to proceed with the peaceful agitation. They also served ‘kanji’ to the agitators and asked the police to put the arrests on hold till the protestors finished their food.
When the news of the clashes and the police attack reached the main venue, the agitators were visibly disturbed and started shouting slogans with more vigour. Sensing trouble, the police, in consultation with the top officials, decided to withdraw from the place.
The announcement of the Rural SP that the police were ‘‘withdrawing for the day’’ was received with loud cheers and huge applause. The jubilant agitators were seen shaking hands with the retreating cops.