THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The hartal called by the UDF on Monday disrupted normal life across the state contrary to its leaders’ call for a peaceful protest demonstration against the anti-people policies of the state and Central governments.
Shops and commercial establishments remained closed across the state. Banks which opened in the morning were forcefully closed by hartal supporters. Workers pelted stones at KSRTC buses in several parts of the state. Though the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi had urged its members to function on the day, there were only a few takers. Schools and colleges remained closed and attendance was low in government offices, including the state Secretariat.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala had earlier claimed that vehicle movement would not be blocked. But, in several districts, senior leaders of the UDF led mobs which blocked vehicles and downed shutters of establishments.In Kollam, DCC president Bindu Krishna led the group of Congress workers who blocked KSRTC buses and closed bank branches.
Kollam witnessed an ugly incident in which the protesters blocked the vehicle carrying a pregnant woman to hospital. After a heated debate, the vehicle was allowed to move.In Pathanamthitta, KSRTC stopped services in the forenoon after incidents of stone pelting were reported.
Hartal supporters blocked vehicles carrying employees to the Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram and Infopark in Kochi. Tension prevailed at Mukkom in Kozhikode after hartal supporters blocked vehicles. Kannur town also witnessed violent incidents in which protesters blocked vehicles and closed shops near the railway station.
Though Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state police chief Loknath Behera had warned of action against protesters blocking vehicles or closing shops, the police remained mute spectators to several incidents in which UDF workers resorted to violence.