Following week-long protests by opposition party workers in Kerala that rocked the state capital, demanding the resignation of state minister KT Jaleel, the Cantonment Police in Thiruvananthapuram has booked 3,000 people for violating COVID-19 regulations. The protests that spanned across many districts over the past eight days had not been abiding COVID-19 protocols like maintaining physical distancing, officials said.
The Cantonment Police station, located close to the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram, looks after the security of the state Secretariat. The Kerala High Court had last week come down heavily on the police for failing to tackle the protests near the state Secretariat despite COVID-19 safety guidelines being in place.
In about 25 First Information Reports (FIRs), cases have been registered against 3,000 people, including 100 women. In the past eight days, the arrest of around 500 protesters was also recorded.
The maximum cases have been registered against the members of various groups of BJP including Yuva Morcha and Mahila Morcha.
Ever since the spread of COVID-19 increased in the state, the High Court of Kerala had on two occasions directed that regulations should be followed in protests. After finding the directives getting ignored, the court reiterated last week that at no cost, should the law be broken.
It is also to be noted that two leaders of Youth Congress and one leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), who participated in the protests, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The opposition Congress and BJP had been protesting demanding the resignation of state Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel, who was recently quizzed by the National Investigation Agency and Enforcement Directorate in connection with the controversial gold smuggling case.
The controversies around Minister Jaleel broke off after it surfaced that he had contacted Swapna Suresh, a key accused of the gold smuggling case. He later stated that he had accepted Raamzan food kits from UAE Consulate and it is for this he contacted Swapna, a former staff of the Consulate, as directed by the Consul General.
But later, opposition aired allegations against Jaleel that accepting gifts from the UAE Consulate was against protocol. The allegations of protocol violation are now reportedly under the scanner of the Customs Department.
With inputs from IANS
Watch protests demanding resignation of Minister KT Jaleel