ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ITDC NEWS R The Congress-led UDF in Kerala, on Friday, announced that it will lead from the front a "mass agitation" against the LDF government's flagship SilverLine rail corridor as various parts of the southern state continued to witness protests against laying of survey stones for the multi-crore project.
A day after Madappally village in Kottayam district witnessed a massive protest against the project, a team of UDF leaders, comprising leader of opposition V.D. Satheesan and former opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, visited the place after boycotting the assembly proceedings on Friday, expressing solidarity with the protesters.
Terming it as one of the biggest chapters in the history of Kerala's political struggle by the poor people, he said, "The struggle against this project will continue under the leadership of the UDF.”
He alleged that the government was hoping to suppress the protest by using force. "Every attempt by the police to suppress the people's protest will be resisted," Satheesan said.
Meanwhile, local residents staged an intense protest against officials who came to lay survey stones for the rail corridor project in Kallayi in northern Kozhikode district this morning.
Several people, including women, could be seen emotionally reacting to the police personnel, who stopped them from blocking the officials, and asking them to shoot them dead before proceeding further.
Police later forcibly removed many of them by clearing the path for the officials to lay the survey stones as part of the land acquisition procedure.
Earlier on Friday, the budget session of the Kerala assembly concluded on a stormy note as the opposition Congress-led UDF disrupted the proceedings and staged a boycott in the house alleging police "high-handedness" against people who protest against the project.
The UDF legislators later told reporters that they have taken over the state-wide protest against SilverLine and would continue the agitation till the government withdraws from the initiative which they termed as "destructive" for the southern state.
When the question hour began, Sathheesan expressed strong displeasure over the police action and informed Speaker M.B. Rajesh that they could not cooperate with the house proceedings in these circumstances.
Soon after that, the UDF legislators raised slogans against police and the government and trooped to the well of the House with placards and a banner.
Though the speaker pointed out that such protests were unprecedented during the question hour and they could raise the issue during zero hour, the opposition paid no heed to his words prompting the speaker to stop the proceedings temporarily.
With this, the UDF members walked out of the house continuing to raise slogans and declaring the boycott of the session.
After completing the necessary businesses, the speaker later declared the house adjourned sine die.
Outside the House, Satheesan told reporters that they boycotted the house in protest against the Left government's concerted efforts to suppress the mass agitation against the SilverLine using police force.
"Kerala is witnessing unprecedented mass agitations. The government is using police as a weapon to suppress it. This is a stir led by people who are going to be the victims once the SilverLine rail corridor comes into being. No one can stop this," he said.
Reacting to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's statement that the opposition was spreading lies and triggering violence, Satheesan asked should the opposition sit in the house listening to his speech when the government was using the police to oppress people.
The inauguration of 100 'janakeeya sadasukal" (people's gatherings) against the SilverLine project would be held there on Saturday, he said, adding that the agitation would be continued till the Chief Minister announces that the project would not be implemented.