Kannur: Amidst continuing protests by the Congress and BJP against him over the revelations by gold smuggling case key accused Swapna Suresh, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said the state government has not passed any direction prohibiting the wearing of black masks or apparel and neither has any one’s right to move around been blocked.
Responding to allegations and criticisms against his government over the reported bar on the use of black masks and apparel at events being attended by the Chief Minister, Vijayan termed them as false stories or propaganda of some vested forces who want to mislead the people and defame the LDF administration.
Speaking at the online inauguration of a meeting of library workers in Kannur, Vijayan said there was a big campaign going on claiming that people’s right of way or right to move around was being blocked in the state and clarified that nothing like that was being done in Kerala.
”In this state, the right to move around will not be denied to anyone under any circumstance,” the Chief Minister said.
He also said that in the last few days there was big propaganda going on trying to mislead the public by saying that black-colored dresses or masks cannot be worn in Kerala.
”Everyone in Kerala can wear a dress of the color they chose and it is a false propaganda of some vested forces that the state government has prohibited wearing of black dress or masks,” he claimed.
He further claimed that people need to keep in mind that during the LDF rule there will be no such bar against wearing black masks or dresses in Kerala.
Vijayan also contended that for want of anything else to defame the government, some vested forces were resorting to spreading such ”false stories”.
He also said the state government would continue working against the forces that are against the interests of Kerala or trying to destabilize it.
His statement comes a day after LDF convener E P Jayarajan questioned the need for people to wear black masks or apparel and state Minister of Local Self-Government M V Govindan said that while ”there was no problem with wearing black masks, it was being used as a mode of protest.” Protests demanding Vijayan’s resignation continued in the state with TV channel visuals showing Youth Congress workers gathered outside the guest house in Kannur where he was staying.
As some of them climbed onto the barricades placed by the police, they used water cannons to dispel the protesters. When that failed, police personnel were seen, on TV channels, removing the protesters by force and dragging them away into a nearby bus.
As the workers were being carried away, they shouted slogans against the Chief Minister, demanding that he step down.
Even purported CPI(M) workers were seen, on TV channels, taking action against a protester.
A man, reportedly a Kerala Students Union (KSU) activist, who waved a black flag at the Chief Minister’s cavalcade was beaten by persons holding CPI(M) flags as he was being bundled into a police vehicle.
The assault on the KSU activist, allegedly by CPI(M) workers, was severely criticized by the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan who did not mince words in his verbal attack on the police and the state government.
Satheesan said it was unfortunate that the police were allowing such things to happen.
He also alleged that what was going on in the southern state was an indication of the ”fascist rule” here.
He further said if Congress or UDF workers are attacked by CPI(M) workers or ‘goondas’, then they will be forced to react.
Triggering a political storm in the state, Suresh, last week, claimed that she disclosed before the court — in her statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code — the other people allegedly involved in the smuggling cases and their ”degrees of involvement.” She said she had given statements against the Chief Minister, his family, former Kerala Minister K T Jaleel, and some other top bureaucrats.
Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with another accused Sandeep Nair from Bengaluru on July 11, 2020.
The NIA, Enforcement Directorate (ED), and Customs conducted separate probes into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.
Several people, including M Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, and another ex-employee of the UAE Consulate here — Sarith — were arrested in connection with the case.