Violence mars Congress march to SP office over attack on carol party

Tension prevails in Kottayam village even 10 days after DYFI attack on carollers
The group of 25 people from six families took refuge at the St Paul’s Anglican Church, Koombadi, fearing further attack from the gang.
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Kottayam: A march taken out by the Congress to the office of the Superintendent of Police (SP) here on Friday over the alleged attack carried out by DYFI activists on a carol party resulted in violence. Among those who took part in the march were former chief minister Oommen Chandy and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, both MLAs. The police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the Congress activists who took part in the protest march.

The march was organised over the incidents at St Paul’s Anglican Church at Pathamuttom. The main demand of the Congress was ensuring justice to the families who have taken refuge in the church. The girl students who were injured in the attack also took part in the march.

The families which have taken refuge in the church had said that they would return to their houses if the police could ensure security to their life.

Meanwhile, sub collector Eesa Priya met the members of the carol party who were injured in the DYFI attack and are now put up at the church to take their statements. This was on the directive of the district collector P Sudheer Babu. The carol party told the sub collector that it was not safe for them to return to their houses as the attackers and other accused were still at large.

The district police chief on Thursday gave a report to the collector that all necessary legal action had been taken on the issue.

According to the collector, a meeting of everyone concerned with the developments would be convened to find a solution to the issue.

The Childline workers also met the children living in the church and collected evidence. The Childline promised a safe stay to the carol team till they could return to their houses.

The attack on the carol team from the church by DYFI members took place on the night of December 23. As many as 25 youngsters who were part of the carol team have been living in the church ever since. Tension has been prevailing in the area all these days. But when a funeral was held at the church recently, the children shifted to another location and returned when the ritual was over.

However, CPM Panachikkad local secretary K Radhakrishnan said that DYFI was in no way involved in the incident. “It is a dispute between two carol teams. One group is staying at the church with a political motive. When the media or political leaders arrive at the spot, they remain at the church and move to their own houses at other times,” said the CPM leader.

The main accused had sparked tension as he arrived at the church the other day, violating a court order to stay away from Panachikkad for three months. The police did not take any action.

The Congress alleges that the arrested DYFI men got bail because the police case was too weak. Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala and BJP leader P K Krishnadas visited the victims.

Helpless victims

The 25 people in the church are from six families and include infants and degree students. Though their houses are close by, they can't dare to go there. Twelve girls are in the group inside the church which is still under construction and does not even have a secure front door.

The church does not have washrooms. The victims need protection to visit nearby homes for primary needs. One of the victims, Yamiya, says she was threatened while going to her house to pick up clothes. She was seriously injured in the attack and is a B. Tech student at the KITTS Engineering College at Pallikathode.

Schools have reopened, but students staying in the church do not dare to go. The parents are also afraid to send them.

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