A Christmas procession taken out in a communally charged atmosphere defying a police ban turned violent in Kanyakumari district on Tuesday evening prompting the police to resort to a lathicharge. At least eight policemen, including an Inspector, were injured in the violence near Kulasekharam.
Police had denied permission to the United Christian Council (UCC), a federation of Christian congregations, and the BJP district unit to take out simultaneous processions at proximate venues to celebrate Christmas and former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee’s birthday respectively.
However, UCC members, led by two MLAs, assembled at the Kalladimaamoodu Junction at Cherupaloor and embarked on a procession. Police stopped them from proceeding further to avert tension as BJP cadres too had assembled close by.
Following this, they squatted on the road and the Padmanabhapuram MLA Pushpaleela Alban (DMK) and Vilavancode MLA S Vijayadharani (Congress) along with UCC leaders began addressing them. Police said the speakers appeared to provoke those assembled.
Hence, the police attempted to disperse them when some persons began hurling stones leading to a clash.
“Those assembled did not cooperate when we wanted to arrest them and turned violent prompting us to resort to mild lathicharge and fire tear gas shells,” Kanyakumari SP Manivannan said.
The district police had banned Christmas processions following the Mondaicadu clashes during the 1980s.
Only last year the UCC had taken out a procession without permission prompting the police to detain three MLAs and 220 others.