KOCHI: Kochi police on Wednesday arrested four persons including V4Kerala's founder Nipun Cherian for the opening of the ready-for-inauguration Vyttila flyover for traffic on Tuesday night, leading to chaos on the flyover.
V4Kerala is a recently-launched political outfit, which contested the local body polls.
The arrest, however, triggered protests with a large number of people holding a demonstration near the Maradu police station in Kochi, alleging that the V4Kerala founder was arrested without any reason.
Besides 34-year-old Nipun, the other three persons arrested are Anchalose John (46), Rafel Varghese (38) and Sooraj Dennis Augustine (32) -- all Kochiites and activists of V4Kerala.
Around 7 pm on Tuesday, the V4Kochi activists removed the barricade on the entry point of Kochi Vyttila flyover, which is slated for formal inauguration on Saturday. Subsequently, vehicles coming from the Alappuzha area entered the flyover at around the same time. Police forcibly returned vehicles stranded on the bridge without allowing them to exit through the other end.
"The arrested have been booked under Prevention of Damage to Public Property (PDPP) Act, Section 146 (rioting), 141 (unlawful assembly), 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others) and 447 (criminal trespass) of IPC. They would be produced before the court on Wednesday," said A Ananthalal, Inspector of Police, Panangad.
Tension prevailed in front of the Maradu police station for a while early on Wednesday after skirmishes broke out between DYFI workers and V4Kerala activists. A few DYFI workers took out a march to the station expressing solidarity with the state government for the timely completion of the flyover. At the same time, V4Kerala activists were protesting in front of the station against the arrest of Nipun Cherian and three others. However, the police managed the situation and dispersed the two groups.
V4Kerala dismissed the allegations that they were involved in the removal of the barricade to open the flyover. "It (removal of the barricade) was a natural reaction of the public after witnessing the hours-long traffic congestion on the junction where even ambulances get stranded for hours. The authorities are wreaking political vengeance on us for democratically staging a protest. We had staged a protest on December 31, demanding the opening of the flyover, where construction and load tests have been completed. Following this, the state government has announced the inauguration on January 9 and we decided to wait until the date and will initiate legal action if the flyover would not be opened. At this juncture, the police arrested V4Kerala leader Nipun Cherian like a murderer and he was dragged out of his flat at night," said Manoj Kumar, leader of V4Kerala.
V4 Kerala activists said they would initiate legal action against the PWD Minister and officials of the PWD for delaying the inauguration even after the completion of the construction of the flyover.