Indian police ban rally in support of Adani port, protesters refuse to back down | News Bharat

VIJINJAM, India: Police in the Indian state of Kerala said on Wednesday they would not allow a Hindu group close to the country’s ruling party to march in support of a mega port by the Adani Group, as tensions rise over a US$900 million project , stopped by protesting Christians.

Members of the Hindu United Front have vowed to walk to the port in Vizhinjam, on India’s southern tip, to pledge their support for a project they say will create jobs in the region.

Construction has been halted for almost four months by protesters from a fishing community who say the port is causing erosion that has affected their livelihoods.

Villagers, led by Catholic priests, blocked the entrance to the site with a makeshift shelter, and an attempt by the police to intervene sparked clashes in which more than 80 people were injured.

In a bid to prevent further violence, a senior police officer said more security had been deployed around the port to prevent the Hindu group from reaching it.

“We denied permission for the Hindu United Front rally. We have taken enough precautions to prevent it if the front goes against the order,” Trivandrum Deputy Commissioner of Police Ajith V told Reuters.

The port is of strategic importance to both India and billionaire Gautam Adani, Asia’s richest man and the world’s third richest. Once completed, it will become India’s first container transshipment hub, rivaling Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka for business on the lucrative east-west trade routes.

Critics say Adani, who hails from the same state as Modi, has benefited from federal government policies.

Both the Adani conglomerate and the Kerala government have denied allegations that the port is causing environmental damage.

Port supporters have set up their own shelter against the protesters. Earlier, Hindu United Front member C Babu told Reuters they would go ahead with the rally.

Kerala state police have already sent reinforcements to Vizhinjam district after villagers stormed a police station late Sunday in clashes.

The protest continues despite repeated orders by the Kerala High Court to allow construction to resume. However, the police have so far been reluctant to take action, fearing that it would cause social and religious tension.

The first phase of construction was due to be completed by the end of 2024. The Adani Group said in court documents that the protests had caused “enormous loss” and “significant delay”.

Adani also faced protests in Australia, where environmental activists launched the Stop Adani movement to protest its Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland state.

(Writing by Aditya Kalra and Miral Fahmi, editing by Connor Humphries)

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