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Judicial inquiry into Cheriathura violence

Staff Reporter

RAF, CRPF personnel deployed in coastal areas

Photo: S. Mahinsha

Making peace: Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan addressing an all-party meeting held in the capital on Monday to discuss the Cheriathura violence. —

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government has decided to order a judicial inquiry into the violent incidents that led to the death of five persons at the coastal hamlet of Cheriathura here on Sunday.

The government will write to the High Court seeking the services of a serving judge, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said here at a press conference on Monday after holding a meeting with representatives of political parties and community leaders at the civil station here.

He said the terms of reference of the inquiry would include the circumstances that led to the incident and possible lapses on the part of the police. Following detailed discussions, including Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, the government decided that it was best that a judicial officer found out the truth about Sunday’s incidents, Mr. Balakrishnan said. A top police officer would conduct a departmental inquiry into the incidents.

The Minister said that with a view to preventing recurrence of such incidents and violence from spreading to other areas, 200 men of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) had been deployed in the coastal areas. Two companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had also been deployed. Besides, there would be an added presence of the State police. He said the district administration had been asked to take necessary steps to ensure that anti-social elements did not take advantage of the situation at Cheriathura. The District Collector had been asked to coordinate peace measures at the local level.

Compensation

Mr. Balakrishnan said the families of those who died in the violence would be given Rs.10 lakh each. The families of the injured would get compensation ranging from Rs.10,000 to Rs.1 lakh depending on the nature of injuries.

The government would ensure expert medical care for those who had been hospitalised and take care of their treatment. He said, “this is for the first time that a government in the State is giving compensation for those killed in police firing.” The actual number of persons killed in the police firing could only be known after the post-mortems were completed, he said.

The Minister said the government would discus with the Election Commission the possibility of bringing back police officers who had previously served in the coastal areas. These officers were transferred for election duty.

The Cabinet would consider the demand that the next of kin of those who were killed be given government jobs. The government had requested those who had called a hartal on Tuesday to reconsider their decision, he added.

Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac, Law Minister M. Vijayakumar, Public Works Minister Mons Joseph, MLAs V. Sivankutty and V. Surendran Pillai, Director-General of Police Jacob Punnoose, District Collector Sanjay Kaul and Mayor C. Jayan Babu were among those who participated in the meeting.

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