KOCHI: Bharat bandh called by LDF and UDF on Monday protesting fuel price hike totally paralysed normal life in Kerala.
All shops remained closed and functioning of private and government offices was badly affected. Both the LDF and the UDF staged rallies in the morning demanding immediate reduction of fuel prices.
Opposition leader, Ramesh Chennithala, as a mark of protest drove a bullock cart on the MG road in Kochi. People were seen stranded in railway stations and bus stands with many services being affected. A few minor skirmishes were reported from various places when hartals supporters forcefully shut down the doors of the offices which were opened. Police were deployed in large numbers at sensitive areas to prevent untoward incidents.
Commuters travelling to airports and railway stations were stranded as there was no public transport. Buses and autorickshaws also stayed off the roads.
Though two-wheelers and private cars were seen plying, buses of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) did not conduct services. Kochi Metro operated regular service bringing relief to thousands of daily commuters.
In various district headquarters, Congress workers staged protest rallies in front of petrol pumps. In Thiruvananthapuram, both the LDF and the UDF workers took out a protest marches. However, the functioning of Technopark and other key officers like ISRO units was not affected.
Kannur University, Calicut University and Cochin University of Science and Technology had already postponed all exams scheduled for Monday. In view of the demands from various corners that flood-affected regions should be kept out of hartal, both the LDF and the UDF had earlier announced that flood relief vehicles and tourists will be spared from the shutdown.
Though the Congress had clarified earlier that vehicles will not be blocked, a few stray incidents were reported when protestors took to the streets to block private vehicles.