South India

Fearing protests against CM, Kerala Police stop people from wearing black masks

The "unprecedented" security measures during the Chief Minister's visit to Kottayam and Ernakulam districts on Saturday had drawn flak from the people, but the state police is continuing the same.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala police have “forced” even elderly people to remove black masks — worn as a precaution against Covid — fearing protest in Malappuram and Thrissur districts as part of security measures for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is in the districts for public programmes.

The “unprecedented” security measures during the Chief Minister’s visit to Kottayam and Ernakulam districts on Saturday had drawn flak from the people, but the state police is continuing the same.

On Saturday, people returning after treatment at Kottayam medical college hospital were blocked by the police — even children and old men and women not spared. In Kochi, two transgenders who arrived at the metro station wearing black clothes and black masks were “forcefully” taken into a police vehicle drawing protests. Avantika, one of the transgenders, told mediapersons that she and her friend were boarding the metro train but police “forced them out just because they were wearing black dresses”.

In Kunnamkulam, Thrissur four youth Congress workers were taken into preventive custody on the possibility of protests against the Chief Minister. The youths were taken into custody from their respective homes in the wee hours of the morning.

Opposition leader and senior Congress leader, V.D. Satheeshan said that Pinarayi Vijayan has turned into a “coward and is fearing” people of the state. He also accused the Chief Minister of “creating trouble for the common people including women, children, old-aged, who were forced to wait for three to four hours in scorching heat at Kottayam and Ernakulam on Saturday”.

The Congress leader said that the same situation was continuing on Sunday in Malappuram and Thrissur districts.

State police deployed 700 policemen including several officers for the two programmes of the Chief Minister at Malappuram district on Sunday. The heavy force deployement comes in wake of claims made by a gold smuggling case accused, Swapna Suresh, who alleged that the Chief Minister and his family including his wife and daughter had “links” with the gold smuggling racket. This led to protests across the state and the police and state intelligence reported that there could be protests against the Chief Minister who is also holding the charge of the home portfolio, and hence the “unprecedented” security arragements have been put in place for the Chief Minister.

Since the drubbing defeat of the CPM candidate at Thrikkakara by-elections, the Chief Minister has not appeared before the media in person.

The Chief Minister, following the Swapna Suresh’s claims, became totally cut-off from the people and travels in an escort of more than sixteen vehicles.


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