Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday categorically made it clear that his government won’t backtrack from the Vizhinjam seaport project and said the recent violent agitations against the multi-crore initiative was with a “clear ulterior intention” to destroy tranquility in the society.
Warning the anti-seaport agitators not to try to intimidate the government, he said any move against the upcoming port could be viewed as an attempt to derail the development and progress of the land.
The government could not abandon the project at any cost and if it was done so, it would give a wrong message and affect the credibility of the state, he said while speaking at a function in the state capital.
It was for the first time that the CM was speaking about the ongoing anti-seaport agitations after the protesters had attacked a police station in Vizhinjam recently.
“What has happened in the case of the national highway development, what has happened in the GAIL pipeline project and what has happened in the Edamon-Kochi power highway, the same will happen in the case of Vizhinjam port also. There is no compromise on that. That’s what I want to make clear now,” he said.
Noting that the agitations were not just a move against the government but against the overall progress of the state, he said the demand to abandon the entire project as such can’t be accepted.
Earlier in the day, the CM said there were widespread attacks against the police and public threats to attack the police station in connection with the anti-seaport agitations, but the police force cleverly realised the intention of the assailants.
Addressing the passing out parade of a new batch of women police constables in Thrissur via online, he, however, did not directly mention the fishermen community who had been staging protests against the upcoming Vizhinjam port and the Latin church, which was leading the agitation.
Appreciating the law enforcers for handling the issue sensibly, he said the peaceful atmosphere continued to prevail in the land because of the responsible behaviour of the police personnel despite attacks and injuries they suffered.
“We have seen that certain agitators had taken the path of violence with a clear intention to destroy the tranquility in the society and upset the peaceful life of the people. As part of that, there were attacks against the police and open threats to attack the police station,” Vijayan said.
The courageous restraint shown by the police personnel was the reason why things didn’t turn out the way the attackers intended and the government realises this.
Attacks, with the clear intention of killing them, were unleashed against the policemen, but the law enforcers delivered their duty diligently with utmost self-restraint, the CM added.
Fisherfolk of Vizhinjam and other coastal areas have been protesting for more than four months against the under-construction seaport, which also led to violence on November 26 and 27.
The protesters attacked Vizhinjam police station on the night of November 27, injuring several policemen.
Besides Vijayan, his cabinet colleagues V Abdurahiman and Ahamed Devarkovil also came out strongly against the agitators.
Fisheries Minister Abdurahiman said he was not ready to accept the apology from Father Theodacious D’Cruz, one of the Catholic priests leading the anti-seaport agitation, for his recent communal remarks against him.
“If you have a loose tongue and say something ill about anyone and then tender an apology in the evening…I am not going to accept that apology,” he said here on the sidelines of a function.
He was replying to the queries regarding the apology note issued by the priest the other day when his remarks evoked widespread criticism.
A case has been registered against the priest and imposed serious charges including communal polarisation in the FIR.
Port Minister Devarkovil said the construction of the seaport is a matter closely connected with the progress not only of the state but of the country itself and the LDF government would not move even a step backward from its stand.
“Kerala is a state which gives utmost prominence to communal harmony cutting across religion or caste. If anyone tries to create a communal division in the name of any agitation, we cannot accept that,” he said
The minister said the government has to take stringent action against the wrong doers.
State DGP Anil Kant also indicated stern action in connection with the recent police station attack.
He said CCTV footage and other scientific evidence would be examined to identify those directly involved in the crime and would take stringent action based on that.
However, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, V D Satheesan charged that the LDF government was trying to brand the anti-seaport agitators as “terrorist” and termed the move as ‘highly condemnable.’
The Vijayan government was following the trails of Narendra Modi government at the Centre in branding those opposing and staging protests against them as terrorists, he told reporters in Kollam.
The state police on Wednesday said that investigation has not reached a stage to suggest involvement of any extremist groups in the recent incidents of violence at Vizhinjam here.