Those who damaged property during Youth Congress strike to be made co-accused: Kerala government

The state-wide dawn-to-dusk hartal was called by the Youth Congress leadership through social media, hours after its workers -- Sarath Lal and Kripesh -- were hacked to death.

Published: 23rd February 2019 01:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2019 01:38 AM   |  A+A-

The police using water guns on the Youth Congress activists who took out a march to the Secretariat in protest against the killing of two Congress workers in Kasargod | Vincent Pulickal

By PTI

KOCHI: The Kerala government Friday submitted in the High Court that those responsible for damage to property during a hartal on February 18 called by the Youth Congress would be arrayed as co-accused in the cases registered across the state.

The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar by the the government counsel, who referred to the decision rendered by the Supreme Court in a case in 2018.

The bench was hearing cases against Youth Congress president Dean Kuriakose, UDF Kasargod district leaders A Govindan Nair and M C Kamarudeen for calling a flash 'hartal' to protest the twin killings of Youth Congress workers in Kasargod district earlier this week.

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State Additional Advocate General Ranjith Thampan also referred to the guidelines given by the Supreme Court to make the organisers of hartal liable and responsible, for tortuous damage caused to public or private property.

Earlier, the court orally observed that loss due to damage during the hartal shall be realised from the accused, and the leaders who had called for the hartal should be prosecuted for abetment of the criminal incidents reported across the state on February 18.

The state government, which was directed to file a detailed report on the damage, said in total, 189 cases were registered against 4,430 people across the state for damaging public property worth Rs 2,65,200 while observing the flash hartal.

Among the accused, 427 people had been arrested, it said.

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The court posted the cases to March 6 for consideration.

The bench had in January banned 'flash hartals', making it mandatory for any organisation to issue a notice of at least seven days.

The state-wide dawn-to-dusk hartal was called by the Youth Congress leadership through social media, hours after its workers -- Sarath Lal and Kripesh -- were hacked to death in the northern Kasaragod district on Sunday.

The state government also informed the high court Friday that public properties worth Rs 38.52 lakh were damaged in a flash hartal called by Sabarimala Karma Samiti in January in protest entry of two women of menstrual age group into the Sabarimala temple.

The government also submitted that direction should be issued to carry out recovery proceedings and realise the damage from Karma Samiti leaders.

The last month's order banning flash hartals was issued based on a PIL filed by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce which had submitted that 97 hartals were held in Kerala in 2018, severely impacting the business and livelihood of workers, causing loss worth crores of rupees.

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