THRISSUR: It seems that the time is ripe for Kerala’s youth to hold a ‘hartal against hartals’, toeing the line of the recent symbolic agitation by scores of young people in Kashmir against shutdowns in the Valley. Kerala has been witnessing a spate of regional issue-based hartals in recent times, besides the state and nation-wide strikes called by various political outfits.
The latest is the all-India general strike. About 24 regional issue-based hartals had affected normal life here in the last 10 months. Thrissur, Kannur, Kottayam and Idukki topped the dubious list of the highest number of hartals. Thrissur had to take the brunt of three hartals over a single issue—toll collection on the NH—on January 17, February 10 and 25, besides four other strikes on issues ranging from political killing to garbage disposal in the last 10 months.
Kottayam and Idukki together witnessed about five hartals on the Mullaperiyar issue from October to January and a few more on issues like attack on the district committee office of CPM’s Motor Thozhilali Union and others. Alappuzha saw two hartals on Mullaperiyar and one on the alleged neglect by Finance Minister K M Mani in the alternate Budget presented in July. Another shutdown was called on Monday by the SNDP Youth Movement to protest against an incident in which five of its activists were injured in
Kozhikode and Kannur have not fared badly with the two fronts—LDF and UDF —holding hartals one after another to protest against the attack on corporation mayor during the council meeting this month, apart from a number of strikes, which were held in its volatile northern tip bordering Kannur. The CPI(M), BJP and Muslim League had called for as many as four shutdowns over political violence in recent days in Kannur. The CPI(M)’s last hartal in Kannur was on February 21 to protest against the attack on CPI(M) Kannur district secretary
P Jayarajan’s vehicle.
Thiruvanthapuram and Kollam also had their fair share of hartals on garbage issues. Wayanad too ‘celebrated’ a regional hartal to protest against the UDF’s alleged inadequate budgetary allocation for the district. If all these were regional issue-based hartals, the state-level protests against Endosulfan, petrol price hike and Mullaperiyar issues had taken their toll on the common man. Amjith Bhooshan, a Delhi-based Keralite businessman, said, “The hartals are not a valid means of protest in the manner in which they are held in Kerala. They do not resolve the problem. We all know the spate of hartals in central Kerala over Mullaperiyar issue and what headway it has made so far.” Expatriate Malayalis are reluctant to invest in Kerala out of fear of hartals, the businessman added.