Kerala police’s arrest of V4 Kochi members sparked a new controversy over the Vyttila flyover

The apolitical outfit had been protesting the delay in opening the flyover, and they reportedly decided to push apart the barricades and allow vehicles in, allegedly causing massive traffic congestion
Kerala police’s arrest of V4 Kochi members sparked a new controversy over the Vyttila flyover

On Tuesday night, Kerala police had to clear the traffic at the Vyttila flyover, which was opened before its inauguration on Saturday. The vehicles accessed the flyover through an opening in the barricade but they were stuck as the other end was closed, creating a heavy traffic situation. A police investigation revealed that the barricade was removed by a few V4 Kochi members.

The apolitical outfit had been protesting the delay in opening the flyover, and waiting for no one, they decided to push apart the barricades and allow the vehicles in. However, with the other side closed, the rush had caused a gridlock, and the police had to intervene. After the initial enquiry, a large group of police officers arrived at V4 Kochi’s controller Nipun Cherian’s apartment late at night to take him in.

In a viral video, Nipun asks the police — who arrived under the leadership of Panangad CI Anantha Lal if he is being taken into custody or being arrested. The police replied that they just need to ask some questions, but at the same time denied Nipun’s request to make some phone calls. The police also asked him to leave his mobile behind.

Nipun’s wife, Dona Cherian, began to panic, as there was no information regarding him for hours after the police had taken him. She told reporters that the police had told the security at the apartment building that they wanted to talk to Nipun outside his apartment. However, they told the family that they needed to take him to the station. Dona had contacted two police stations and no one had any idea where Nipun was until she asked if she had to file a missing persons’ report. The station officer gave her the contact for Maradu police, who confirmed that Nipun was in their custody.

Apart from Nipun, the police had also arrested V4 Kochi members Sooraj, Angelos, and Raphael in the case. Moreover, the officials have also charged a case against almost a dozen vehicle owners for rushing into the flyover. The outfit’s Secretary Shakir Ali told media that the police’s accusation is baseless. The police officials had claimed that apart from opening the barricades, V4 Kochi members had asked returning vehicles not turn back but to go on ahead, as the police were trying to clear the bridge. However, Ali said that they were not V4 Kochi members, but normal citizens “who was tired and impatient with the government denying them their rights”.

“What has happened at the bridge was illegal and we have filed a case against the accused for the destruction of public property. Using WhatsApp and Facebook to mislead the people regarding such issues is not a good model to follow. We will have to take legal action against any movement and activities that go against the democratic values of the system,” a senior police officer said. However, the official refused to answer as to what kind of damage was done and the extent of the damage, claiming that it was an “ongoing investigation”.

The outfit’s activists have alleged that the police are responsible for the heavy traffic block as they refused to let the vehicles go through. They claimed that it was undemocratic of the government to keep the bridge closed, despite finishing construction. They also added that they wrote to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to open the bridge temporarily and that he could inaugurate it at his convenience.

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