The Kerala Police on Friday claimed that they had stopped the escalation of Sabarimala-related hartal violence. However, they admitted that there were still some hotspots of disquiet in Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Kasaragod districts.
Importantly, the police have moved for the mass arrest of those they suspect were responsible for the nearly two-day spree of violence that rocked Kerala following the entry of two women to Sabarimala early Wednesday. The police round-ups and detentions overwhelmingly targeted Sabarimala Karma Samathi (SKS), Hindu Aikya Vedi (HAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers who had imposed a hartal on Kerala on Thursday.
They arrested 1,369 persons on charges of unlawful assembly, attack on officers, causing damage to public property, rioting, arson, inciting enmity between communities and illegal use of explosives. The arrests unfolded in a coordinated manner and involved night raids and searches, which caused tense stand-offs between officers and SKS supporters in several neighbourhoods.
A senior officer said the simmering violence boiled over early Friday with the rival political factions targeting each other’s houses and party offices.
He said the pattern of attacks was almost the same across the State. It primarily involved unidentified persons on motorbikes vandalising houses and offices. Friday also saw an increase in incidents of arson, use of loud bangers and petrol bombs in a few cases.
The house of A.N. Shamseer, MLA, at Thalassery came under bomb attack on Friday night. According to the police, the attack happened around 10.15 p.m. The attacker came on a motorcycle and escaped from the scene after hurling the bomb. Thalassery and nearby areas have been witnessing tension for the last two days.
The MLA was attending a peace meeting following the tension in some areas of Thalassery when his family informed him of the attack on his house at Madappeedika at Thalassery. The CPI(M) alleged that the BJP was behind the attack. The police said that the water tank of the house was damaged in the attack.
The police said CPI(M) workers torched the local office of the BJP at Puthiyatheruvu. Tension prevailed at Thalassery after two houses belonging to CPI(M) and Sangh Parivar workers came under attack on Friday evening.
In Thiruvananthapuram, the police have clamped prohibitory orders in Nedumangad and Valiyamala for three days. The localities had witnessed pitched street battles between BJP and Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers on Thursday. In Kattakada CPI(M) workers vandalised the house of BJP leader Shibu. In Malayinkeezhu, a police search party found three crude bombs hidden in a school building.
Adoor Revenue Divisional Officer M.A.Raheem clamped prohibitory orders in the police station limits of Adoor, Pandalam and Kodumon for three days from Friday midnight. Two motorcycle-borne assailants gate-crashed into the house of a local CPI(M) leader, P. Raveendran, at Munnalam, near Adoor, around 1.0. p.m. and hurled country bombs into the room. Mr. Raveendran sustained burns on his leg and arm. A similar country bomb explosion was reported from Pazhakulam in the evening.
The cremation of Chandran Unnithan who was killed in stone-pelting on Wednesday was held at his residential courtyard at Kurampala, near Pandalam, on Friday afternoon.
In Kozhikode, anonymous persons hurled a crude bomb at the house of Malabar Devaswom Board member K. Sasikumar. The police have imposed prohibitory orders for five days in the Vadakara and Perambra police station limits.
The police have declared a high alert in Thrissur and Palakkad districts. They have announced a curfew in Palakkad town and Manjeswaram and tense Chettukundu in Kasaragod till Sunday.
The police have also stepped up vigilance of social media to keep a tab on online mobilisation of cadres to prevent the entry of women to Sabarimala.