KASARGOD: Drawing inspiration from the anti-shut down movement in hartal-happy Kerala, the Merchants’ Association of Kanhangad has decided to defy the UDF call for shut down on Monday, provided the police gave security cover. “We are determined to keep our shops open on the hartal day. But we need a written assurance from the police that they will provide us security cover,” said president of the association C Yusuf.The association will ignore calls from all political parties and organisations to shut shops as a mode of protest , he said.
“Why should they have a ‘successful’ hartal at our expense,” he asked.
The Congress-led UDF has called for a hartal on Monday to protest against the frequent hike in fuel prices and price hike because of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Beg to differ
Representatives of political parties said they never enforced hartal at any time, and had only “requested cooperation”. BJP district president K Shreekanth said the merchants’ association could not impose its views on member traders. “The choice of supporting or ignoring a hartal should be left to the individual trader,” he said. People can accept or reject a hartal depending on the cause, he said.
CPM district secretary K P Satheesh Chandran said traders have come out against the hartal because it was called by UDF. “The KPCC president had staged a protest against hartals,” he said. For LDF, hartal is a mode of protest to highlight the voice of the common man. “People are free to support or ignore it,” he said.The Congress said the UDF was observing the hartal on October 16 to express the sentiments of people across the country. “We have the freedom to protest against the price rise caused by the GST and the frequent rise in fuel prices,” said district Congress president Hakeem Kunnil.
He said activists of the UDF will approach each shop in Kanhangad and “request the cooperation of the traders for the hartal. How can they stay away from such a hartal?” he asked.
District police chief K G Simon said it was physically impossible to provide police protection to all shops. “We want all shops to function. But there should be an understanding between the hartal supporters and the traders. A confrontational approach will not yield positive results,” he said. “I have asked the Kanhangad DySP to hold talks with the merchants to find out what they expect from us,” he said.