The Kerala High Court on Thursday blamed the police for the August 3 riot situation in Vilappilsala and failure to offer adequate protection to the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation for moving machinery to the shut-down garbage treatment plant there.
The police should have known what to do, the Court orally observed while considering a Corporation affidavit, which, on its part, criticises the police for the violence which ensued in the panchayat on August 3. If the police are unable to carry out Court orders, the Court will have to resort to other measures, a Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice A M Shaffique said. It was the duty of the Government to carry out Court orders, the Bench observed.
Acting on a Court order, the police had promised protection to Corporation vehicles transporting leachate plant machinery to the plant on the morning of August 3. In fact, prohibitory orders under Section 144 were in place in Vilappil panchayat from the evening of August 2.
But local people had waylaid the convoy by blocking the road. Led by Deputy Speaker N Sakthan, the Vilappil panchayat president S Shobhanakumari and action council leaders, the crowd set fire to logs and furniture in the middle of the road. The police resorted to lathicharge and water cannons to scatter the slogan-shouting men and women.
In its affidavit, the Corporation said that the ‘’slackness on the part of the police and the unnecessary delay caused in the movement of the vehicles from the premises of the Corporation office helped the unruly elements and miscreants along with respondents 6, 8 and 9 to create a law and order situation at the factory site in Vilappilsala.’’
Though the Corporation was ready to move the machinery from Thiruvananthapuram by 7 am, the ‘soft-pedalling’ on the part of the police delayed the start up to 9.50 am. By the time the convoy reached the factory at 10.40 am, a large crowd had already gathered and started causing physical obstruction for the movement of the vehicles.
According to the Corporation, the police had promised a 2,500-strong police posse as protection to the vehicles.
The Corporation had also asked the Court to direct the Centre and the DIG, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), to grant ‘adequate and effective police protection.’