13 May 2014 - The venue of protest against the ship-breaking unit of the Steel Industries Kerala Ltd (SILK) at Azhikkal witnessed tense scenes on Monday, following a ruckus between police and activists of the Kappalpoli Virudha Samithi (Committee against Ship-breaking).
The police arrested 26 activists, including Samithi leader M K Manoharan and convener M Shajahan, who were later released on bail.
Hundreds of traditional fishermen, fish merchants and boat crew joined the sea strike called by the Araya Samajam, Fishermen Health Protection Council, Azhikkal Boat Owners Association, Vallakkar Samrakshana Samithi (an organisation of traditional fishermen) and All-Kerala Fish Merchants Union.
Around 8 am, the protesters moved in country boats and laid siege to the vessels brought for dismantling and asked the workers there to cooperate with the stir.
“We spoke to the migrant workers from Gujarat in their language specifying the occupational hazards and they agreed to stop the work. We also asked them to ensure safety precautions if they were forced to continue the job,” M K Manoharan said.
The agitators who later laid siege to the entrance to SILK were arrested by the Valapattanam police.
Meanwhile, an all-party delegation comprising leaders of the CPM, Congress, Indian Union Muslim League and the BJP held talks with the SILK management. The area witnessed tense scenes as protesters wanted the party leaders to reveal the details of the talks which they allegedly refused to divulge.
The protest venue also witnessed heated arguments between the police and the activists. Various environmental organisations like GreensGa and Civil Rights Protection Council also extended support to the stir on Monday.
Dr D Surendranath, N Prabhakaran, Karingalkuzhi Krishnan, Devadas Talap and others addressed the protesters.