The hartal on April 16 was called for by various social media groups, catching the general public off-guard.

After violence during flash hartal in Kerala Rights Commission seeks inquiry Photo by Mohan SK
news Violence Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 17:09

By Nizam Haris

The Kerala State Human Rights Commission on Wednesday, sought for strict action to be taken against those who took part in a flash hartal organised by various social media groups.  

The hartal, observed on April 16, was called for to protest the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl from Kathua in Jammu. However, it turned violent in several places with protesters pelting stones at KSRTC buses, attacking police and forcing people to shut down shops. 

In a press release issued on Wednesday, Human Rights Commission's acting Chairperson P Mohandas said that action should be taken against people who called for the hartal. If stringent action was  not taken, Mohandas said that such instances could be repeated in the future. The Commission asked the District Police Chief to submit an enquiry report within a span of 30 days. 

The Commission's directive comes based on a complaint filed by Janata Dal leader Saleem Madavoor. 

The hartal had caught the general public off-guard, with many not being aware of such a protest. 

The police were on high alert after messages calling for a hartal were widely circulated on social media, despite that Mondaysaw protesters resorting to sporadic violence. In some places, police personnel too suffered injuries. 

According to a report published by The Times of India, police arrested at least 950 protesters and registered 350 cases across the state. 

Public property was damaged and stones were thrown at public transport causing injury to a KSRTC bus driver in Kasargode. Sporadic violence was reported from districts including Malappuram, Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur. In Kannur, the police resorted to lathicharge to disperse off the protesters. 

Although political parties including the CPI (M), IUML and SDPI distanced itself from the hartal, many of the protesters police nabbed reportedly belong to these parties. 

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