Vizhinjam port protest: Cops book bishop for 'promoting enmity'

However, in a press release dated Wednesday, father D'Cruz apologised for his remark and withdrew the comments. Terming his remarks a "slip of tongue", D'Cruz expressed his regret and said that it was a natural response to the minister's statement.
A visual of the fishermen protest that caused destruction on Sunday.
A visual of the fishermen protest that caused destruction on Sunday.ANI

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Police on Thursday booked the convenor of the Fishermen's protest outside the Vizhinjam seaport in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram. The Vizhinjam Police have booked father Theodacious D'Cruz under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion, and provocation with the intent to cause a riot with his comment against state Fisheries Minister V Abdurahiman.

According to the First Information Report, father D'Cruz had made certain statements that were intended to create communal tension between the Christian and Muslim communities through his statement against the minister. "He (Minister V Abdurahiman) is the biggest traitor in the world. We thought he was the minister of fishermen. There is a terrorist in his name. Those who do not know how to hoist the national flag are calling us traitors," D'Cruz said reacting to the fisheries minister's Tuesday remark of calling the protestors "Anti National".

In a seminar organised by the Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited at Thiruvananathapuram on Tuesday, Minister Abdurahiman termed the protest against Adani's port project as "anti-national" and said that any person who loves the country, cannot accept such a protest. Some Muslim organisations have demanded the father withdraw his statement and register a case against him.

However, in a press release dated Wednesday, father D'Cruz apologised for his remark and withdrew the comments. Terming his remarks a "slip of tongue", D'Cruz expressed his regret and said that it was a natural response to the minister's statement.

"I am withdrawing my comment and expressing regret. It was a natural response to the minister's statement against the protesters. It was a slip of tongue," the press release read. The fishermen have been protesting to oppose the Adani port project, alleging that it was not a natural port and that if one goes inside, they can witness huge sand dunes dredged from the sea piled up.

On Sunday, the fishermen's protest turned violent and the Vizhinjam Police arrested five protesters for allegedly blocking trucks in Thiruvananthapuram which led to a scuffle. However, four of the five protesters were released later. The Vizhinjam police informed on Sunday that they had registered cases against the Arch Bishop and the auxiliary bishop of Thiruvananthapuram, as well as several priests for allegedly blocking trucks, leading to a scuffle.

These trucks were carrying some material for the construction of Vizhinjam port by the Adani Group. The alleged scuffle took place when a group of people protesting against Vizhinjam port's construction blocked these vehicles and another group in support of the port project opposed them.

They had booked Arch Bishop Thomas J Netto, Auxiliary Bishop Christuraj and the priests on several charges including conspiracy, incitement to violence and attempt to murder, on Sunday. A case was also registered against protesters supporting the port project, the police informed.

In September, the Kerala region of the Latin Catholic Council (KRLCC) launched a 'Janabodhana Yatra' from Moolambilly in Ernakulam district to Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram as a part of a solidarity protest against the fishermen, who are holding protests at Vizhinjam against the Adani port project. The churches of Kochi also extended their support to the fishermen, with priests and clergymen forming a human chain with the support of locals spread over 17.5 km.

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