Kerala Police "brutally" came down and lathicharged Puthuvypeen residents, "unlawfully" detaining children
We are writing to you in the context of the serious repression by your Government on the people of Puthuvypeen, near Kochi who have been peacefully protesting against the LPG Import Terminal Project of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for the past 108 days.
Just as we were pleased to note certain positive decisions by your government on other fronts, we are constrained to note that like in any other state, people’s voices and struggles continue to be muzzled in Kerala, particularly when the justifiability of ‘development projects’, pushed against popular consent is questioned in democratic ways.
It has come to our notice that the Kerala Police, by way of lathi charge of women and men, mass arrests and even unlawful detention of children, has brutally come down on the residents of Puthuvypeen. We would like to stress here that most of the people of Puthuvypeen are poor, landless people and many of them belong to the fishing community. Their concerns of livelihood loss, environmental and health impacts must be addressed by the State, not crushed in this manner.
We were extremely disturbed to see pictures of women and children detained at police stations, protestors with broken/ fractured limbs and police ruthlessly demolishing the Satyagraha pandal, all in an attempt to enable IOC to start the project work. We received information from reliable sources that until yesterday late night, more than 325 people are under the custody of the police in different stations, of which over a 100 are children!
While 45 children, along with women are in one station, about 15 children are in yet another station. Some women and children are in the nearby hospitals. This action of the police is in complete violation of basic human rights, criminal procedure and juvenile justice laws.
While we do not wish to bother you with legal technicalities of the IOC Project at this stage, we have gathered that certain matters in this regard are still pending before the Southern Zonal Bench of the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal and the matter has been listed on 4th July, 2017 for further hearing by the NGT.
The order dated 24/4/2017 of the NGT also indicates that the Union Environment Ministry has sought time to file reply. We are at pains to understand as to how the plant works could have been initiated, much less using physical force when the matter is sub judice before the NGT. Your government owes an explanation to the NGT and people-at-large in this regard.
National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) expresses its solidarity with the people ofPuthuvypeen and calls upon your government to immediately and unconditionally withdraw charges, if any, and release all those who have been arrested or detained, along with ensuring medical, legal aid and compensation for police excesses.
We hope you will immediately intervene in this incident and also issue orders for appropriate legal action against the administrative and police officials for unlawful detention and physical force used on the peaceful protestors. We urge you to ensure that the project works are put on hold until there is a clear informed consent of the local people, final approval of the NGT and compliance with all environmental laws. Kindly take a positive step for facilitating a dialogue between the concerned departments and representatives of the people, to ensure an amicable solution.
Signatories include Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan), Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan), Prafulla Samantara (Lok Shakti Abhiyan), Lingraj Azad (Samajwadi Jan Parishad - Niyamgiri Suraksha Samit), Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava (People’s Union for Civil Liberties), Sandeep Pandey (Socialist Party), others