Usually, an announcement of a hartal would prompt every Malayali to switch on their holiday mood, but not this time. On Thursday, the hartal called by Mullaperiyar Samrakshana Samithi evoked lukewarm response from Kochiites who went about with their business like every other day.
With rains adding to the chaos, the roads were clogged during morning hours and shops functioned as usual.
With another hartal call on Monday, the city chose the ignore yesterday’s one. People gathered at bus stops and railway stations early morning itself.
Bhaskaran, a government employee, said though he supported the protest against the Supreme Court verdict on the Mullaperiyar issue, he was completely against the hartal call which added to the woes of the people.
According to Raju P Nair, general convener, ‘Say No to Harthal’ Campaign, this was a historical moment as Kochiites came forward against such hartal.
“It is indeed great that our movement against hartal was a success. The Supreme Court has came out with a verdict against the good prospects of the people while the people showed their protested against the verdict by not sitting in their homes. It is a positive indication”, he said. Raju P Nair added that it was clear that people
got together against the hartal.
“We had planned a vehicle rally to protest against the verdict. We conducted the same inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to avoid traffic woes,” he added.
However, he admitted that the scene would have been different had major political fronts backed the hartal.
M B Sathyan, secretary, Private Bus Operators Association (PBOA), told ‘Express’ that it was a great effort from the people who united to work on the harthal day.
“Though we have announced on Wednesday about the service of buses, we never thought that people would unite against harthal”, he said.
Meanwhile, Hibi Eden MLA told ‘Express’ that though this was a laudable effort, one couldn’t jump into conclusion that it was against harthal.
“If any political party has called for a harthal, it would be a different story. The organisers who called hartal on Thursday wers weak in terms of strength, yet we support their protest for a good cause,” he said.