Kottayam: Kerala police on Monday launched a massive crackdown on rumour-mongers and instigators of unrest, a day after a village here witnessed a massive protest by migrant workers violatingthe 21-day lockdown announced by the Centre to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Kottayam district Collector P K Sudheer Babu issued orders under Section 144 of the CrPC prohibiting assembly of more than four people in Kottayam district.
The prohibitory orders were issued as a measure "to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the district," officials said.
The orders were issued following reports submitted by the district police chief and sub-divisional magistrate, stating there were instances of public gathering in the district even after the government announced measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, officials said.
District Police Chief G Jaidev said cases have been registered against some identified people for unlawful assembly violating the lockdown orders issued by the government as part of measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of the virus.
He said a person, a migrant worker, has been taken into custody in connection with the incident and is being interrogated.
Prima facie the police suspect a conspiracy behind the incident, the district police chief said.
Those who instigated the workers will be arrested, the district police chief said.
A team has been constituted toinvestigate the case, Jaidev said.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said on Sunday there was a conspiracy behind it and lashed out at the "forces" which were trying to create unrest in the society by provoking the working class during the coronavirus pandemic.
Local leaders of ruling CPI(M) have alleged role of some radical elements in creating unrest in Payippad village.
Seeking transportation to travel to their native places, hundreds of migrant workers took to the streets in Payippad village, near Changanassery, on Sunday, violating the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
The Kerala government quickly stepped in to defuse the tension by deploying police force and sending the Kottayam district authorities to pacify the agitating migrant workers, who are called guest labourers in the state.
The district collector and superintendent of police held talks with the migrant workers and managed to send them back to their camps.
The authorities have assured the migrant workers that all facilities would be provided for their comfortable stay in the state during the lockdown period.
The government, however, rejected their demand for travel facilities citing directives issued by the Central government banning movement of people outside the dwelling place.
"They are saying that they want to go to their native places. That is practically impossible", the district Collector had told reporters after talking to the workers.
Officials said the workers demanded traveling facilities to reach their native places as being arranged for the people in other states including Delhi.