The party has held 2 state-wide hartals and 3 district hartals between October and December.

BJP generously contributes to hartals in Kerala organises its 5th hartal in 3 months
news Strike Friday, December 14, 2018 - 14:11

Kerala is witnessing a state-wide dawn to dusk hartal on Friday. The hartal has not been called by the Left parties who have had a reputation of disrupting life with hartals, bandhs and strikes, but by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has ironically always opposed the Left's politics. And this is not the first time that the BJP is resorting to hartals in Kerala, in fact this is the fifth such shutdown the party has called in just three months.

The hartal on Friday has been called over the death of 42-year-old Venugopalan Nair who immolated himself at the BJP's Sabarimala protest site in Thiruvananthapuram. The Thiruvananthapuram City Commissioner of Police said that the deceased had set himself on fire not because of the Sabarimala issue, but due to other personal reasons and loss of desire to live. However, Venugopalan Nair's family has disputed this and his brother Manikandan told the media that his brother said, “He had done it for Ayyappa.”

The BJP that has been receiving a lot of flak for calling the hartal, however, arranged buses for students were were writing the NEET exam on Friday. Arrangements were made to take students to examination centres in various districts. 

In 2017 too, BJP had called for almost 20 hartals at various levels in the state. Here is a look at BJP's hartals in the last three months over the Sabarimala issue alone.

October 7: Hartal to protest against TDB's refusal to file review petition

On 7th October, the party organised a hartal in Pathanamthitta district, where Sabarimala is situated. The strike was to protest against the Travancore Devaswom Board's decision to not file a review petition on the Supreme Court's September 28 verdict allowing women enter Sabarimala. The hartal was also against the alleged police brutality against those who participated in the Yuva Morcha protests against the women entry verdict. 

November 2: Hartal for dead Sabarimala devotee Sivadasan 

A dawn to dusk hartal was organised by the BJP in Pathanamthitta to protest against the death of Sivadasan, a 60-year-old Sabarimala pilgrim, who was found dead in Laha, near Sabarimala on November 1st. BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai took alleged that Sivadasan died due to the police crackdown in Nilakkal on October 16 and 17. He claimed that the Sabarimala devotee was on a moped with Lord Ayyappa’s picture when the police attacked and beat him to death. and declared a hartal in the district. Despite the party claiming that Sivadasan went missing on October 17, the police later confirmed that he had only left for Sabarimala from his house on October 18 and had died in an accident.

November 17: State- wide hartal for KP Sasikala 

The BJP lent its support to right wing group Hindu Aikya Vedi in their state wide protest against the arrest of HAV president KP Sasikala, who was taken under preventive custody from Nilakkal on morning of November 17. The arrest was a precautionary measure to ensure that no protests broke out at the temple. KP Sasikala had gotten in trouble earlier for blocking women entering the hill shrine and checking their age proof. The state-wide hartal for Sasikala was declared at 3 am on November 17. 

December 11: Hartal to protest alleged police high-handedness during Yuva Morcha protest 

The party called for a district wide hartal in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram alleging police's high-handedness during a protest by the Yuva Morcha which took place outside the Secretariat on Monday. The hartal began from 6 am and ended at 6 pm. 

December 17: Hartal to honour man who immolated self 

The latest hartal, which is a dawn-to-dusk state-wide hartal called on Friday, is to honour Venugopalan Nair, the 49-year-old who died after setting himself on fire on Thursday at the BJP's Sabarimala protest site in Thiruvananthapuram. The hartal coincided with the release of Odiyan, the Mohanlal-Manju Warrier starrer that released on Friday. This drew the ire of Mohanlal fans across the state who have been trolling the BJP on social media.

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