Kerala cops ask protestors supporting Shaheen Bagh, Walayar kids to remove tents

While both protest groups say that they would continue the protests, the police say that they only want the tents removed and not the protest itself.
Kerala cops ask protestors supporting Shaheen Bagh, Walayar kids to remove tents
Kerala cops ask protestors supporting Shaheen Bagh, Walayar kids to remove tents
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Sunday marks the 22nd day of the protest by the Justice for Walayar Kids Forum in front of the Thiruvanthapuram Secretariat. Sunday also marks the 14th day of protests by students held in solidarity with the protestors at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Population Registrar (NPR) – also held outside the Secretariat.

The Cantontment Police, located opposite the Secretariat, has given notice to both protest groups on Sunday, to remove the awnings within two days. A letter from police inspector M Anil Kumar says that the venue is a high security area and the protest tents pose a security threat. It also causes difficulties to the pedestrians and vehicle users, the letter says.

However, both protest groups do not want to remove the protest tents as yet. “It has been a very peaceful and democratic protest held mostly by students from the various colleges of Thiruvananthapuram. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that peaceful protests against the CAA shall not be disrupted. So we have held a press conference today, with an open request to the CM, to allow us to continue with the protest,” says Medha Surendranath, one of the protestors of the Shaheen Bagh solidarity protest.

In the press release they have issued, the students point out that the police have used baseless reasons to ask them to remove the protest tents. “They say we cause difficulties to the protestors and our tents hide the Secretariat from view,” Medha says.

Protest camp of Justice for Walayar Kids Forum

The students have decided to continue with the protest, despite the police notice. So have the protestors demanding justice for the two girls in Walayar who were allegedly sexually assaulted before their deaths. “We had raised three demands as part of the protest – one, to take action against Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) MJ Sojan, who has helped the real culprits escape, two, to punish the real culprits responsible for the death of the girls, and three, to find out who are behind the crime and what political or religious influence they have to escape the law like this. If our demands are met, we will remove the protest tents right away,” says Professor Kusuman Joseph, one of the organisers.

She points out that there has been no cause of security concern all these 26 days they have been holding the protest. “How can a new security threat happen now? We think it is just an attempt to defeat our protest. But we cannot back down till a solution is reached and that can be done only if the court orders a reprobe. The government has announced a judicial investigation but we don’t have a lot of hope on that,” Prof Kusumam adds.

No need to stop the protest, only remove tents: Police

The Cantonment Station House Officer (SHO) M Anil Kumar says that the police have not asked the protestors to stop the protest, but only to remove the tents. “They may continue with the protests. But it is a high security zone and we cannot allow protest tents blocking the view of the Secretariat for so long. Normally, we allow protest tents for one to 15 days but after that it has to be removed,” the SHO says.

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