As BJP flags and posters proliferate across Kannur district ahead of BJP's mega campaign against 'CPM intolerance' in Kerala, men in khaki have been instructed to keep their guard high. Kannur Superintendent of Police Aswathy Unnirajan tells TNM that security has been beefed up in the CPM dominated area ahead of the event and the proposed yatra by BJP President Amit Shah.
The two-week 'janaraksha yatra' will be inaugurated at Payyanur in Kannur on October 3 with BJP leaders including Smriti Irani and Nirmala Sitaraman expected to join Shah. The BJP President will be part of the yatra for two days as it passes through areas that have seen violence and conflict between CPM and RSS workers. BJP State President Kummanam will then continue to lead the yatra for four days in Kannur and other districts for a day each. They will walk about 10 km a day.
"We have arranged for a separate motorcade to accompany them when the yatra is taking place. In addition to 16 DSPs here, 6 more officers, who have earlier worked in Kannur, have been called in," says the SP. "Two inspectors with prior experience in Kannur have been deployed and there are a total of 800 dedicated constables posted for the yatra," he adds
Senior BJP leaders in the state had earlier told the media that they will be taking on the CPM over political violence and intolerance towards the functioning of other parties. They will reportedly also address issues such as 'Muslim extremism' and 'Love jihad', in a district that is already prone to violence.
"We do not expect a problem at the inauguration itself. Maximum security has been allotted in the route between Kasargod and Kannur. Three DSPs have been posted just to monitor that route," says the SP. "We want to prevent any kind of incitement including burning flags or ripping up posters," he adds.
Kannur saw escalated tensions only five months back when an RSS worker was hacked to death near Payyanur by alleged CPM workers.
For the police now, law and order will become the prime focus at the event and during the yatra. "All our energies are focused on it," agrees the SP. "The VIPs may have CRPF personnel guarding them but we are still responsible for their overall safety," he adds.
When asked about the number of people who will possibly attend the inauguration at Payyanur on Tuesday, the officer says, "We can't really tell how many will come or stop anyone from coming. But we are prepared to handle anything."