Hartal disrupts normal life in Kerala
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The near-total dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the ruling front and the opposition parties, as part of a nation-wide strike against the fuel price hike, disrupted normal life in state on Monday.
National and state highways were blocked by both UDF and LDF activists for hours resulting in minor scuffles. Though no major untoward incidents took place, isolated incidents of violence were reported from some parts of the state.
The strike also affected the functioning of government offices. The Secretariat functioned with a thin attendance - only 16 per cent of the total staff turned up for work on Monday. Banks, which opened in the morning, were forced to down shutters by hartal supporters.
Shops and commercial establishments remained closed across the state. Though the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti had urged its members to function on the day, there were only a few takers for the call. Schools and colleges also remained closed.
According to police, no major acts of violence were reported as the KSRTC buses and private buses decided to keep off the road. However, train services were not disrupted.
At many places, hartal supporters blocked highways and roads leaving several motorists stranded on the roads for hours. State Women’s Commission member Shahida Kamal was attacked, allegedly by Congress workers, at Neduthery in Kollam. She was admitted to the Pathanapuram taluk hospital following the attack.
In Thiruvananthapuram, roads were blocked in front of Technopark by the protesters to stop employees entering the park. Later the police intervened and arrested the protesters.
The police also made arrangements to pick and drop passengers from Central railway station to Medical College Hospital, RCC and other respective offices.
In Kochi, the hartal was near total. Both fronts carried out marches to central government offices. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala led the UDF protest march in Kochi by travelling in a bullock cart. Tension prevailed in the city in the morning after groups belonging to two political parties clashed with each other.
Infopark recorded an attendance of around 55 to 6o per cent with the rest given the option to work from home. Transportation facilities were arranged for the Infopark employees from Palarivattom on a convoy basis. As usual, volunteers of Say No to Hartal helped the stranded passengers to reach their destinations.
In Malabar region, the hartal was total as public transport kept off the roads. In Kozhikode, KSRTC buses initially operated services on a convoy basis, but was later halted following the protests.