The statewide dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the LDF in protest against the Kasturirangan Panel Report on Western Ghats was near-total in the district. However, it was largely free of untoward incidents. Government offices and most private establishments were closed. Normal business in industrial areas and vehicular traffic were severely affected.
“Though no incidents of violence was reported, the hartal hit normal life severely. The attendance was low at government offices and the normal functioning of the civil station was also affected,” said District Collector P I Sheik Pareeth.
According to the data available at the civil station, only 37 of the 164 officials recorded attendance at the office. Sources said that several employees left after registering their attendance.
The strike was marked by the absence of public transport on the road. The KSRTC did not operate any services in the district. “We managed to run only our routine Pampa service from the district. The service was offered with special police protection. The majority of the workers were also absent,” said C K Radhakrishnan, ATO Ernakulam.
According to senior officials at Infopark, the attendance at the IT hub was less. “As per the statistics available, only 55 per cent of the employees were present. But some companies initiated ‘do your work at home’ arrangement. So some employees must be working from home,” a senior official said.
District Rural Police chief Sathish Bino said that the district was relatively free of violence. However, stones were pelted on a bus carrying Sabarimala pilgrims at Kakkanad on the Seaport-Airport road. “Two youths on a motorcycle pelted stones at a vehicle carrying Sabarimala pilgrims. There was no causality in the incident. Based on a complaint lodged by the pilgrims, the police are trying to trace the assailants. Our primary understanding is that they may not be hartal supporters,” said SI Joseph Thomas.
George Edaparathy, LDF district convener, said the hartal was a success in the district. “In Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam and Perumbavoor, the hartal was total. People cutting across political affiliations joined the hartal. The LDF also organised protest rallies at the regional-level,” he said.