The State capital witnessed high drama as the police braved several tense moments to arrest former legislator P.C. George for his alleged hate speech against the Muslim community.
Having taken Mr. George into custody early morning from his residence at Erattupetta in Kottayam, a police convoy led by the Fort Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) S. Shaji rushed him to the Armed Reserve (AR) camp at Nandavanam in the capital city amid tight security by 10:10 a.m. The Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) leader arrived in his private vehicle after refusing to travel in a police jeep. He was accompanied by his son Shone George.
Mr. George was booked under the direction of State Police Chief Anil Kant for having made incendiary statements against the Muslim community during his speech at the Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelan on April 29. The police had received nearly 20 complaints against the former Government Chief Whip including one from Muslim Youth League.
The Fort police have registered a case under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He will be produced before the magistrate later in the day.
The police action was met with stiff objection by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which accused the government of adopting double standards of justice.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, who was refused entry to the AR camp to meet Mr. George, charged the government with arresting citizens for expressing dissent, even while letting murderers go scot-free. He also accused the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)] of having supported those who have indulged in “graver crimes” including sedition.
He, however, sidestepped questions on the propriety of the controversial statements that had been made by Mr. George at the Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelan.
BJP state president K. Surendran accused the Pinarayi Vijayan government of adopting a fascist line by ignoring the wrongdoings of Muslim extremist groups that spewed communal venom. Senior leader Kummanam Rajasekharan also condemned the move.
Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan demanded legal action against Sangh Parivar leaders at whose behest Mr. George allegedly made the controversial remarks. The Congress leader also raised concern against attempts made by extremist groups to destroy the secular harmony that existed in Kerala.
Reacting to the developments, Indian Union Muslim League national general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty termed Mr. George’s comments as a ‘war cry’ that was aimed at destroying the peace in the State. He accused the Sangh Parivar of unleashing a ‘communal strategy’ that is allegedly similar to what had been seen in various northern States. Condemning the speech, the CPI (M) had demanded a public apology from Mr. George.
The situation remained tense in the city with the police having deployed sizeable teams to various parts in anticipation of riots. Amid threats by the BJP to agitate against the police action, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) activists also gathered outside the AR camp.
DYFI workers pelted eggs and waved black flags when Mr. George was brought to the police camp. A few BJP supporters, who waylaid the convoy at Vattappara on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, draped a shawl on the politician.
A huge battery of police personnel also remained stationed outside Mr. George’s residence in Erattupetta.