Outrage over the Shiv Sena’s moral policing in Kochi led to a dramatic face-off between the ruling and Opposition MLAs in the Legislative Assembly and spilled over to the streets in a public agitation with kisses and calls to reclaim public spaces, on Thursday.
Congress MLA Hibi Eden’s notice seeking permission for an adjournment motion in connection with the incident was denied by Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, following which MLAs of the Congress-led Opposition, United Democratic Front (UDF), gathered in the Well of the House in protest.
In response, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said there could be an Opposition-backed conspiracy behind the incident. “These scenes make you wonder if the Shiv Sena men were hired,” he said, enraging the UDF legislators, who charged toward the treasury benches.
MLAs of the CPM-led ruling front responded with equal aggression, rushing in to stop the approaching Opposition MLAs. The Speaker adjourned the House temporarily before it came to blows.
The police had on Wednesday arrested eight activists of the Shiv Sena in connection with moral policing at Marine Drive in Kochi.
The incident happened as a group of Sena activists were taking out a march to “protest” sexual crimes against women.
The activists caned and reportedly tried to manhandle men and women who were seated together on the water-facing promenade.
In videos released from the location, they were seen charging aggressively at the men and women and chasing them away.
An inspector has been suspended and constables shifted to the Armed Reserve Camp for having failed to intervene.