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30 injured as highway survey sparks clashes

Clashes erupt at Areethode in Malappuram after survey team was blocked by locals; 20 policemen among injured.

Published: 07th April 2018 04:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th April 2018 04:16 AM   |  A+A-

Anti-survey protesters burn tyres on NH 66 following clashes with the police at Kooriyad in Malappuram on Friday | Express

By Express News Service

MALAPPURAM: The protests against the land acquisition survey for NH 66 development turned violent in the district on Friday. Clashes between protesters and the police left 30 persons, including 20 policemen, injured. The injured persons included Tirurangadi police inspector E Sunilkumar.Clashes erupted at Areethode in A R Nagar Panchayat after the survey team was blocked by local residents and protesters at 11 am. The protesters included women and children.

The police resorted to lathi charge in order to disperse protesters and this led to strong stone pelting. The police also launched grenades three times in order to disperse the mob.Tirurangadi police said cases will be registered in the incident. “We have taken six persons into custody and cases will be charged against more persons for attacking the police and preventing them from discharging duty,” said Sunilkumar.

During the protests, an 11-year-old girl fainted and NH Action Council functionaries alleged she was hit by a stone, pelted by the policemen.“The local residents have been denied their right to mark their protests democratically,” said Action Council district convener Abulais Thenhippalam.He demanded the government to immediately stop the survey and exclude residential areas by realigning the road.  

Following the protests by UDF leaders, the Revenue Department on Friday decided to stop the survey till April 11. An all-party meeting will be held on April 11 and the decision will be taken in the meeting,” said additional district magistrate C Ramachandran. The meeting will also select one of the two alignments, proposed by the authorities.

“We will select the most practical alignment,” the ADM said. Alleging police brutality, MLAs K N A Khader and P Ubaidulla along with DCC president V V Prakash, district panchayat president A P Unnikrishnan and Youth League state secretary Mujeeb Kaderi staged a sitting protest in front of District Collector’s chamber. The decision was taken by the district administration following the protest.
Earlier, IUML district committee had openly come in support of the evictees. Besides, P K Kunhalikutty MP had met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking steps to address the grievances of land and building owners.

The survey, which started at Kuttippuram on March 19, has covered more than 30 kilometres in the district. In its past three episodes, the survey was dropped due to strong protests.On April 3, clashes erupted at Kottakkal between protesters against the NH survey and the police. Shabeena Choorappilakkal has been leading an indefinite hunger strike under the banner of Thottungal Padashekhara Samithi.

UDF flays police action
Malappuram: UDF leaders have condemned the police action on Friday against protesters at AR Nagar. A Facebook post by Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged the police brutality against women and children. “The police resorted to violence and even women and children were brutally beaten. The policemen even broke into the houses of local residents,” the post alleged. IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty termed the attempts to forcefully acquire land, brutal. “The party strongly condemns the police action. The police failed to gauge the sentiments of the local residents and the force committed
criminal acts. Those who permitted the police to take on the public are also responsible for the crime,” Kunhalikutty said.

‘Avert unwanted clashes’
Malappuram: In response to the clashes, Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran on Friday asked the public to avert unwanted clashes. A statement issued by the minister said an all-party meeting will be held in the capital and the meeting will discuss the issues. The statement, which termed the protesters rioters, asked the political parties in the district not to support them. “The police have been told not to fall prey to the provocation. But, the force is obliged to protect its members,” the statement said. The protesters should apologise to the people in Kerala, it added.

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