Protests erupted in different centres in the Malabar region on Friday with youth workers of Opposition parties taking to the streets demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan alleging that accused persons in the controversial gold smuggling case have close connection with officials in the Chief Ministers office.
The protests by the youth organisations turned violent in Kozhikode and Kannur, forcing the police to use water cannon and burst tear gas shells to disperse the protesters. Several protesters, police personnel and mediapersons suffered injuries.
The Kozhikode Civil Station premises witnessed stormy scenes after two different marches taken out by the Muslim Youth League (MYL) workers and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) turned violent. Over 25 activists sustained injuries in the police action. There were over 400 persons near the civil station premises, where the police had a tough time managing the protesters who thronged the area flouting the physical distancing protocol. Water cannons and smoke grenades were used to disperse the irate mob.
Two sub inspectors and two photojournalists were also among those who sustained injuries during the scuffle. The police resorted to lathi charge as some of the protesters pelted them with stones. There were also attempts to cross the police barricades and enter the Collectorate compound.
The Nadakkavu police said cases were registered against the leaders of both MYL and BJYM for organising such a protest violating the COVID-19 protocol and unleashing attack against the policemen. The police resorted to lathi charge only after they were pelted with stones frequently, said the officials.
MYL leader P.K. Firoz who sustained injuries in the police lathi charge said the protest would be continued till their demands were met in the gold smuggling case. The BJYM workers who appeared at the spot after the MYL march said the police were acting in favour of the State government and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). They declared that the protest would be intensified across the State as their leaders were also beaten up by the police.
Though the MYL and BJYM protesters reached the spot wearing masks and face shields, they failed to follow physical distancing norms and other health protocol during the march. Many of them removed the shields and masks forgetful of the safety measures. The call of the police to use masks properly too was ignored amid the scuffle.
The police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse Youth Congress activists, who carried out a march to the Chief Ministers house at Pinarayi in Kannur. The march was inaugurated by K. Sudhakaran, MP, and was led by Youth Congress State president Shafi Parambil. The police barricaded the road to the Chief Ministers residence. The march turned violent when the police stopped the protesters.
In another incident, Youth Congress workers waved black flags and tried to block Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, when his vehicle reached near the District Collectorate.
In Malappuram, the police dispersed a BJYM march taken out to the Collectorate. BJP district president Ravi Thelath inaugurated the march. BJYM leaders said that several of them were injured in the police lathi charge.
The district committee of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) OBC department staged a protest in front of the Collectorate, demanding a CBI inquiry into the Chief Ministers alleged connection with the gold smuggling lobby. The protesters also demanded that the Chief Minister should resign. A.P. Anil Kumar, MLA, inaugurated the protest. OBC department district chairman Manammal Babu presided.The MYL protested by staging a symbolic gold melting event. Youth League workers took out a march to the Collectorate at Palakkad too.
In Wayanad, the protests were incident-free. Kerala Students Union (KSU) took out a protest march to the Collectorate in Kalpetta, seeking the resignation of the Chief Minister. Speaking after inaugurating the march, KSU Youth Congress State secretary M.K. Indrajith said smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels was not only high treason but also a serious threat to national security. The protesters sought CBI investigation into the issue.
MYL district committee also took out a protest march to the district collectorate. MYL State vice president Najeeb Kanthapuram inaugurated the march.