The protest against the hike in fuel price by the Congress district committee here on Monday has put the party in a spot after Malayalam film star Joju George questioned the blocking of a busy National Highway here by the agitators which resulted in an attack on his car, triggering an outpouring of support for the actor from the film industry and the DYFI.
Even as Congress chief K Sudhakaran termed George’s act of questioning as goondaism, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan said he personally was against protests involving road blocks.
Meanwhile, the cinema fraternity and the DYFI, the youth organisation of the ruling CPI(M), came out in support of the actor. Police, after considering the actor’s medical test report, said he was not drunk as alleged by the Congress leaders.
“We have registered a case against certain Congress workers based on Joju George’s complaint. The case has been registered for damaging his car, waylaying his vehicle, assaulting him, among others,” police told PTI. A case has been registered against the Congress workers for blocking traffic also.
Police also confirmed that they have received a petition from a section of Congress workers alleging that the actor abused them. Police had earlier in the day said action would be taken against the culprits after examining the video footage of the incidents.
“No written permission was sought for the agitation but there was enough police deployment after coming to know about the protest through the media,” a police officer told reporters.
The Congress workers blocked the Edappally-Vyttila NH bypass, a busy route, in the morning leading to heavy traffic block, resulting in thousands of vehicles being stranded in Kochi city. George walked some distance after alighting from his vehicle and went to the Congress workers protesting there. This resulted in an altercation and later some people allegedly smashed his vehicle which was stuck in the traffic.
“The protests may cause a little trouble for the people. We have achieved so many things through protests. This is something which concerns the poor people. He behaved like a goon,” KPCC chief K Sudhakaran told reporters.
Meanwhile, Satheesan, who met the media at Thiruvananthapuram, said he was personally against such protests involving blocking of roads. “I am personally against such forms of protest. It seems like this is an isolated incident. However, will seek more details from the district unit,” Satheesan said.
Meanwhile, Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) general secretary and filmmaker B Unnikrishnan condemned the KPCC chief’s statement against the actor. “It’s highly condemnable that an actor like Joju George is being called a goon and that his vehicle was damaged,” Unnikrishnan said.
District Congress Committee (DCC) president Mohammed Shiyas claimed that the 30-minute blocking of the road was organised after giving notice to the police and publicising about it through the media.
Condemning the action of the actor, Shiyas alleged that George created trouble at the protest venue in a drunken state and misbehaved with women workers of the party. George, while talking to reporters, said the mode of protest blocking the road was not acceptable.
Such “shameful” protests should not be repeated again as it was affecting people who have ventured out of their houses for their various needs, the actor said. The DYFI, which came out in support of the actor, said the Congress party was also responsible for the rise in petrol prices due to its earlier action in handing over the power to fix the price to petroleum companies and said the attack was to divert attention.