Police use tear gas shells, and water cannons during a Congress protest in Kerala

Kerala PCC president K. Sudhakaran hospitalized after police deploy tear gas without warning during a protest march.

Thiruvananthapuram: Several congressmen including Kerala PCC president K Sudhakaran were hospitalised after they faced health complications from high-grade teargas shells used by the police without any warning, during the Congress party's march to the Director General of Police office here on Saturday.

Sudhakaran was admitted to a local hospital after he complained of nausea, severe cough and uneasiness. The incident took place soon after the PCC president Sudhakran inaugurated the protest march.

Opposition leader V D Satheeshna who spoke next, was only a couple of minutes into his speech when the cops started hurling tear gas shells and water cannons against the protestors. With the shells landing near the stage where the top leaders including MPs and MLAs were seated, the workers intervened and took them away. PCC president Sudhakran and other senior leaders were seen struggling to move out of the smoke-filled area.

What followed was a pitched battle between the Congress workers and the police. The DGP office march, which coincided with the concluding day of Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan-led outreach programme Nava Kerala Sadas was organised to protest against the recent attack against the Congress workers by the CPM, DYFI and police.

"Water cannons and teargas shells were directed at the stage. We found it difficult to breathe, water cannon added to the problems. One of our leaders fell on the ground gasping for breath. People with cardiac issues and respiratory problems faced a harrowing time," Sudhakaran told media persons from the hospital bed.

Former chief minister Oommen Chandy’s son Chandy Oommen and Rajya Sabha MP Jebi Mather were also admitted to a local hospital following health complications during the protest.

Sudhakaran alleged that the police attack was carried out under the instructions of the chief minister. "They want to ruthlessly crush democratic protests against the government. Cops with criminal background were being used by the ruling party to unleash violence against Congress workers," he said and added that the Congress party would resist such repressive measures strongly.

Shashi Tharoor MP alleged that high-grade teargas shells were used against the peaceful protestors. "I was on the dais at that time. Opposition leader Satheeshan had just started his speech and without any provocation, the cops started using water cannons and shells. Many leaders faced health complications because of the shells.

One needs to find out whether it is legal to use such high-grade shells with chemical smoke, against protestors. As many as 16 shells were used. Leaders and workers vomited and had severe coughs and nausea. The police should have issued a warning," he said.

Meanwhile, top Congress leaders met at the PCC headquarters Indira Bhavan to finalise the future course of their agitation.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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