Police lathi charge on Orthodox March
Report by Anil PV - Freelance journalist
Feb 22, 2007
I am sure you must have come to know about the police lathi charge on the
protesting Orthodox priests and the laity in Trivandrum last Tuesday. I was a
mute witness to the police atrocities that day.
I was covering this event and was at the venue of the meeting from 2.30 pm,
which was held over the Palayam underpass in the city. The church did manage to
mobilise a large number of people. I was surprised to see the crowd. There were
people from all over Kerala. The mood among the Orthodox people was definitely
aggressive but under control.
Once the procession started, I, along with my other media friends reached the
Secretariat ahead of the rally. We were surprised at the police force that was
present there. Water cannons, police in riot gear and barbed barricades all over
the place. It was very evident that they were waiting to teach the protestors a
lesson, lest they dare do it again. The police attitude was very intimidating.
Never should these people think of speaking out against the Government.
Once the rally reached the Secretariat, the church leaders along with some
Bishops wanted to go inside and meet the CM to give a memorandum. But they were
made to run from one gate to another by the police. The crowd was restless but
the lathi charge started without any provocation. The police say there was stone
throwing which made them charge. But it was a premeditated move. Surprisingly
these stones came from the terrace of adjoining buildings and not from the
crowd. The police targeted the unarmed priests and the faithful. The hapless
ones were thrashed mercilessly. Many were injured grievously.
Those of you who would have seen the live telecast (by Asianet and Manorama
News) will remember how some priests were singled out and beaten by the police.
The media was supporting the Orthodox Church till some of them were targeted
later in the evening, which was deplorable. This happened inside the St. George
Cathedral when some 5 ? 6 Bishops and scores of Priest were present. (Btw, Fr.
Sam Kanjikcal who was in Bhilai some years back is the vicar here now)
Now what is not known to many is that while all this was happening outside
Secretariat, some Bishops & Priests of the Patriarchise (Jacobite) faction were
in a meeting with Kodieri Balakrishnan, the Kerala Home Minister.
It's easy to blame the Patriarchise group for instigating the trouble the stone
throwing. Some are of the opinion that the police action was a deliberate move
by the Communist government to appease the Patriarchise faction. The presence of
two strong supporters of the Patriarchise faction (Kuruvilla & Sarma) in the
present ministry here adds credibility to this theory. (It's an open secret that
the entry into the Trikunnatth Seminary happened because of their influence).
It may be surprising to note that even many from the Jacobite church itself are
of the opinion that this police action has been masterminded by a Patriarchise
Thirumeni in convenance with Kodieri Balakrishnan.
Police is an extension of the government and this kind of an action sends out
wrong signals. Everyone knows that the police is a tool in the hands of the
ruling government to settle scores. The photographs and the visuals on TV speak
a lot about the police attitude. The Police could have shown more restrain.
If you have the time and interest, please do forward this mail to as many of
your friends from the Orthodox Church so as to form an opinion against the wrong
actions and policies of the Communist government in Kerala. Every person in this
country has a right to protest in a peaceful manner and this government was
wrong in attacking defenceless protestors.