A day after caning demonstrators protesting against setting up of an LPG import terminal here, the police today said the 'forces with extremist nature' were behind the locals' stir against the LPG terminal project.
Amid demand for stringent action against police for the lathicharge at Puthuvype, that left at least 20 injured, the Ernakulam Rural police said they suspected that 'forces and parties with extremist nature' were behind the agitation.
"We have information about the role of forces and parties with extremist nature in the protest. We are investigating their role. They (the protesters) are getting support from outside," Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police A V George told reporters here.
The protesters, meanwhile, said they would not attend a meeting convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday at his office in Thiruvananthapuram.
They said there was no need to go to the state capital to attend the meeting.
"If the meeting is being organised in Kochi, then we will think about attending it," a leader of "LPG Terminal Virudha Janakyeeya Samara Samiti" told a TV channel.
He also criticised the government for "branding" their agitation as a movement instigated by extremist forces.
At least 20 people were injured yesterday when police lathi-charged protesters, who allegedly tried to breach a security cordon and storm the site.
Vypeen area observed a dawn-to-dusk hartal today against the police action. The hartal was called by the Congress.
The police action yesterday against the protesters was condemned by various parties, including Congress, the BJP and ruling LDF partner CPI.
The protesters of Puthuvype havealleged that scores of people, including women and children, were injured in the "brutal" police action.
Citing the chief minister's intervention, Indian Oil Corporation yesterday announced temporary suspension of work on the project.
In a release, District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla hadreferred to the IOC's decision and urged the people to withdraw their agitation.
The protesters, however, rejected it, saying they would continue their protests till their demands are met.
Residents of Puthuvype have been up in arms for thepast four months against the LPG terminal and the storage projectin the densely populated area, raising safety concerns.
Work on the facility was stalled for several days recentlyfollowing intensified protest by people under the banner of "LPG Terminal Virudha Janakyeeya Samara Samiti" near the work site.
They have alleged violation of environmentalnorms.
The police were last week directed by the Ernakulam district administration to provide protection to the site.
The Kerala High Court had recently ordered that the terminal, functioning in the Special Economic Zone in Puthuvype, should be provided police protection.
Vijayan had earlier held a meeting with the protesters and appealed to them not to prevent the ongoing works at the terminal.
The district administration has said the LPG terminal and storage facilities had received all clearances from various agencies, including the Environment Ministry.