Kozhikode city was under a thick security blanket on Sunday with the city police pulling out all the stops to thwart any protest bid by Opposition parties during the events that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan attended here in the evening.
Congress, BJP and their frontal organisations have been holding protests in various parts of the city following the revelations of Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case. There was anticipation of violence here too after the heavy security deployment during the events Mr. Vijayan attended in Kottayam and Kochi on Saturday and the reported ban on people wearing black face masks.
Mr. Vijayan reached the Kozhikode Guest House at West Hill in the city from Malappuram at around 1 p.m. The first event, the release of a book on the late communist veteran K. Chathunni, was scheduled at a private hotel near the Sarovaram Biopark at 3.30 p.m. Heavy downpour delayed the event and the Chief Minister stepped out of the guest house only by 4 p.m.
By the time his convoy reached Karaparamba Junction, some Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists waved black flags. Earlier, a similar protest was staged at Pantheerankavu Junction on the Ramanattukara Bypass Road. When the vehicles turned to the Mini Bypass Road, activists of the Youth Congress and the KSU also waved black flags from near the biopark. The police swiftly took them into custody.
From there, the Chief Minister went to the Kozhikode District Cooperative Hospital at Eranhipalam, a few km away, where a new block for women and children was being opened. Muslim Youth League activists staged a protest there. The third and final event was the centenary celebrations of the Calicut Diocese, held at the St. Joseph’s Church ground on Kannur Road at around 6 p.m. Organisers there had reportedly requested the participants to avoid wearing black face masks. K. Praveen Kumar, DCC president, boycotted the event in protest against this alleged ban. In view of the protests by pro-Opposition activists, a group of CPI(M) activists were seen outside the venue expressing solidarity with Mr. Vijayan.
Hundreds of police personnel were stationed at each of these venues. It was reported that eight assistant commissioners of police were given charge of the routes the convoy was passing by. Each junction was under police control. Participants were allowed to get in only an hour before the event was to start. The extent of road from Eranhipalam to Arayidathupalam on the Mini Bypass Road and the area around Malabar Christian College on Kannur Road were completely closed to traffic in the evening. The Chief Minister returned to Kannur by road by around 7 p.m.