Attack on cops by staff puts Kitex Group in tight spot

Workers attack police, torches vehicles; Kitex group in tight spot

The violent incident took place following Christmas celebrations at the company's accommodation for workers

The torched police vehicle. Credit: P V Sreenijin/Facebook

A section of workers of the Kerala-based Kitex group of companies attacked a police party and torched and damaged police vehicles on Saturday night after a clash broke out between two sections of workers, mostly migrant labourers, at Kizhakkambalam in Ernakulam district, where the company is headquartered.

The incident that took place following Christmas celebrations of the workers has become an embarrassment to the firm as Kitex group managing director Sabu Jacob had recently locked horns with the left-front government in Kerala over frequent inspections by various government agencies at its units. Ruling CPM and Congress came out against the company following the incident.

Police said that around 500 workers, most of them under the influence of alcohol and drugs, clashed following a dispute that broke out during the Christmas celebrations. A police party that rushed to the spot came under the attack. Many workers climbed on the police vehicles and damaged the vehicles and the police personnel were beaten up. Five police personnel, including a circle inspector, were injured. One police vehicle was torched and four other vehicles were damaged.

Later more police personnel rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control Around 150 workers were taken into custody in connection with the incident.

Kitex group managing director Sabu Jacob said that the workers who engaged in the clashes were under the influence of drugs. A detailed probe was required to find how they got drugs. All those arrested by the police were not culprits. Stern action will be taken against those involved in the clashes.

Denying allegations that the clash occurred due to lack of facilities at the labour camps, Jacob said that a section of residents complained that the celebrations were causing disturbance to them and this triggered the clashes.

Local MLA P V Srinijin of the CPM said that the local people were much irritated as they alleged that drug abuse was very rampant in the region. Congress MP Benny Behanan said that a comprehensive probe was required into the incident.

The Kizhakkambalam panchayat is being ruled by the Twenty20 forum initiated by Jacob as part of the CSR activities of the Kitex group. Twenty20 had also contested in the Assembly elections. Jacob had alleged that the frequent inspections by various government agencies at his units were politically motivated. He also withdrew Rs. 3,500 crore investment plan proposed in Kerala alleging that the state was not investor-friendly and decided to make the investments in Telangana.

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