Thiruvananthapuram: The 'Kiss of love' protest held in Kochi on Sunday has sparked a spat between CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala over the handling of the situation by police.
While Vijayan accused the government of having adopted "double standards" to deal with "unusual protest", Chennithala said there was no lapse on the part of police in handling the situation at Marine Drive in Kochi.
"Ours is a country where the right to protest is allowed as a democratic means... When some form of protest is out of the ordinary, there will be people who support it and oppose it," Vijayan said in a Facebook post.
Criticising the way police had handled the situation, the CPI(M) leader said the government had adopted "double standards" against both sympathisers and opponents of the protest.
"The attack by those who came to stop the 'kiss of love' had actually created unruly scenes at Marine Drive. Police used pepper spray and caned the gathering repeatedly. Police in fact protected those who came to oppose the protest wielding weapons and raising hatred slogans," Vijayan said.
No "moral police" who are out to disturb peaceful life of people should be allowed to have their way, he said.
Instead, police had been used to protect those who sought to destroy peace, which is dangerous and shameful for a state like Kerala, he added.
Responding to his critics, Chennithala said there was no lapse on the part of police as they had acted just as they would have in any situation where there had been a huge gathering of people.