The Church along with the agitators, especially fishermen, called off the over four month long agitation against the construction of Vizhinjam International Port, despite the Kerala Government denying the major demands on halting the construction and need to include a local community representative in the expert committee constituted to study the possible coastal erosion .
From the very beginning of the agitation, the Left government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stressed that the construction work could not be stopped. Now, the agitators, after 138 days, had yielded to the government. Rather the Latin Church was so adamant in stopping the construction work for calling off the agitation.
In all ways, it is a major political victory for the ruling LDF. The government did not yield to the disputed demands of the agitators led by the Latin Archdiocese. One of the major demands of the agitators was to halt the construction work completely. Another was to include a local community representative in the expert committee constituted to study the possible coastal erosion. Apart from these, the other demands included rehabilitation of families who lost their homes to sea erosion, steps to mitigate coastal erosion and financial assistance to fisherfolk on days weather warnings are issued.
When the Government comes out victorious, the Church and the people had lost a major agitation after they backed out from their major demand for which they had all these days stood firm. Church leaders had categorically in earlier times stated that they would not budge from their demand of stopping all construction works
THE WITHDRAWAL ANNOUNCEMENT
Eugine Pereira, Vicar General of the Latin Church, announced the decision on December 5 to end the protest after a closed-door meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Addressing the media after the talks, Pereira said that they are calling off the protest for now. Stating that protests did not always come to an end only after achieving their objectives, he said that each protest had several phases. “One such phase of the protest has ended in a consensus,” Pereira said.
He also mentioned that the protest was not being called off because they were satisfied with the steps taken or promises made by the state government.
Surrendering to the Government without the major demand being addressed, the Church has to answer to many a question to the people who stood behind the Church in the agitation and also to the people for delaying the construction work, which according to the government would cause financial burden as penalty for the delayed days.
CHANGE OF DECISION
The decision of the Latin Church, which has a commanding power among the fishing community, raised many question on why the agitation was called off after the adamant decision not to do so.
The agitators had all the sympathy until November 27 when the protestors stormed the Vizhinjam Police station. This hooliganism changed the course of the agitation with several leaders and even the common man turning against this unholy adventure. In the midst of the agitation, convener of the Vizhinjam Protest Council Father Theodosius had invited criticism for his controversial comment against state sports, waqf and Haj pilgrimage minister V. Abdurahiman. D’Cruz had said there was a “terrorist” by the minister’s name. The remark went viral, and while the church leader offered an apology. Apart from this, Police registered cases against hundreds of people for vandalism. And not the last, the Left Government had told the high Court that it had no objection in handing over the security operations at the port site to the Central Agency. The church as well a the agitation was losing support and also the Chirch leaders feared that the Court might even turn against them.