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The Hindu
The Hindu
Special Correspondent

Anti-government demonstrations roil Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram Anti-government demonstrations demanding Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's resignation roiled the State for the fourth straight day on Friday.

Congress workers skirmished with the police and braved water cannons to lay siege to collectorates. Several persons, including police officers, were injured in the mele.

Congress said the disclosure that Mr. Vijayan had used the UAE consulate's Customs scrutiny-free diplomatic channel to smuggle out foreign currency and illegally import contraband "metal" had rendered his continuation in office untenable.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president K. Sudhakaran inaugurated the Statewide protests. He said the audio clip released by UAE diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh had revealed that Mr. Vijayan had barefacedly despatched an intermediary to appease the complainant. He alleged that a ranking police officer had tasked the agent to help Mr. Vijayan.

The emissary had used threats and inducement to make her recant her damning statement against Mr. Vijayan. In the process, the emissary had also revealed that Mr. Vijayan and CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had secreted their ill-gotten wealth in the U.S. account of a religious group. Mafia groups ruled Kerala. The CPI(M) leadership benefited from gold smuggling and hawala operations. They were hand in glove with the land mafia.

Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan said people had lost faith in State and Central law enforcement. He demanded a court-monitored inquiry into the revelations. The Congress has upped the ante in its political conflict with the Left Democratic Front. The party will burn Mr. Vijayan in effigy in front of the Secretariat on Saturday.

Mr.Satheeshan said the judiciary should probe the police bid to make a complainant retract the sworn statement given on her own and confidentially to a magistrate.

BJP State president K. Surendran said Mr. Vijayan had lost the moral right to continue in office. BJP workers would march in strength to the Secretariat on Saturday to press for Mr. Vijayan's resignation.

Meanwhile, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) will likely convene next week its committee to devise a strategy to counter the Congress-BJP gambit. The CPI(M), CPI and Kerala Congress (M) have supported Mr. Vijayan.

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