Around 36 police officers were injured in clashes with protesters in India’s southern state of Kerala.
- Hundreds gathered outside a police station to demand the release of the arrested protesters
- Police say protesters “came with deadly weapons and stormed the station”
- Protesters claim they were assaulted by officers and pelted with stones
The protesters were demanding the release of a man arrested during a demonstration against a $900 million ($1.34 billion) port project by the Adani Group.
The growing excitement has become a major headache for Adani’s US$23 billion ports and logistics business.
The port’s location at the southern tip of India was seen as key to winning business from ports in Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Construction on the Vizhinjam seaport has been halted for more than three months since protesters, mostly from the fishing community, blocked its entrance, blaming the development for coastal erosion and saying it was depriving them of their livelihood.
Over the weekend, protesters blocked Adani construction vehicles from entering the port despite a court order to resume work, leading to the arrest of many of them.
This prompted hundreds more to gather at a police station on Sunday night, demanding the release of those arrested.
Clashes with police ensued, causing damage to some of their vehicles, TV news and a police document showed.
“They came with deadly weapons and stormed the station and held the police hostage, threatening that if the people in custody were not released, they would set fire to the station,” police said in the incident document.
Many of the protesters were Christians, led by Roman Catholic priests.
Police attacked the protesters, who included priests, said a priest, Eugene X Pereira, vicar general of the archdiocese.
“Stones were thrown even from the station,” Mr Pereira said, calling for a judicial inquiry into the incident.
Adani Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It previously said the project was in compliance with all laws, citing studies in recent years that dismissed accusations linking it to shoreline erosion.
The state government blames the erosion on natural disasters.