Kerala Governor renounces police protection, ventures into crowded S.M. Street in Kozhikode amid stand-off with State Govt.

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Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan walking through S.M. Street and mingling with the public in Kozhikode on December 18.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan walking through S.M. Street and mingling with the public in Kozhikode on December 18.
| Photo Credit: K. Ragesh

In an unprecedented move, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan ventured into Kozhikode city and mingled with the crowd in the busy S.M. Street on December 18 (Monday), marking a novel chapter in the ongoing stand-off between him and the State Government.

Reaching S.M. Street around 12.30 p.m., the Governor mingled freely with children, raised some on his arms, kissed and blessed them like a grandfather. He talked to the local people and traders and posed for selfies. He even went into a sweetmeat store where the storekeeper fed him a piece of the famous ‘Kozhikodan halwa’. Another trader gifted him a cap.

The Governor spent around 45 minutes on the street, walking from one end to the other, waving to the crowd and stopping to talk to them occasionally.

Earlier in the morning, the Governor had come down heavily on the Kerala Government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. “Let them do whatever they want. I was not afraid of anyone even when I was 35. Now I am 70. It is higher than the national average age,” the Governor told reporters at the Calicut University, responding to the protest staged by Students’ Federation of India (SFI) activists on the campus against his visit.

Banners reappear

The Governor had the banners against him put up by the SFI on the campus removed with the help of the police on Sunday night. However, the banners reappeared on Monday morning, which irked him.

“The Kerala Police is one of the best forces in the country. But the Chief Minister does not allow the police to function independently. His intervention is the reason for the force being ineffective,” he said before announcing that he was renouncing police protection.

‘People of Kerala love me’

“The people of Kerala love me. They will protect me,” he said before setting out to Mananchira in the heart of the city. He challenged the Kerala Government saying that he would go to the market alone if necessary.

The typically crowded S.M. Street was flooded with people who had turned up to meet the Governor, while the police could only watch from the sidelines. Though Mr. Khan had renounced their protection, the police attempted to manage the crowd as much as possible. Around 25 police vehicles, including a bus full of armed policemen, accompanied him on his journey to Mananchira. Hundreds of policemen had already camped at the Mananchira square to offer him protection.

The traffic around Mananchira came to a standstill during the time the Governor was in the area.

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