Kerala flash hartal: Buses and passengers attacked, shops forced to shut across dists

Thiruvananthapuram has, however, been exempted from hartal called by the Kerala Youth Congress due to the ongoing Attukal Pongala temple festival.
Kerala flash hartal: Buses and passengers attacked, shops forced to shut across dists
Kerala flash hartal: Buses and passengers attacked, shops forced to shut across dists
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The statewide flash hartal, which was called by the Youth Congress in Kerala following the death of two party workers in Kasargod district,  has turned violent in several parts of Kerala. With the Youth Congress workers blocking vehicles and forcefully shutting down shops in many districts, the flash hartal has thrown normalcy out of gear in the state.

Youth Congress has called for hartal ignoring the Kerala High Court’s ban on flash hartals in the state. On January 7, Kerala HC had ordered that political parties should mandatorily issue notice seven days prior and any citizen can approach the court, challenging the hartal during this seven-day notice period.

In some parts, vehicles were blocked and passengers were forced to disembark from KSRTC bus in Palakkad and Malappuram, among other districts. The Youth Congress workers also barged into several offices and forced the employees to shut down their establishments. However, private vehicles were found plying smoothly.

In Thrissur, a tussle broke out between the party workers and the police during a march by the Youth Congress on Monday morning.

In Ernakulam, several places such as Palluruthy, Thoppumpady, Aluva, Angamally and Kalamassery saw sporadic violence. Pro-hartal workers blocked vehicles, including private and KSRTC buses, leaving the commuters in the lurch. The party workers clashed with the police and entered into an argument with shopkeepers across Ernakulam district when shops were forced to shut down.

In south Kalamassery in Ernakulam, the Youth Congress workers attacked an egg merchant and destroyed his products. Aneez, an egg merchant, was on his way to distribute eggs from north Kalamassery market to shops.

The police arrested Youth Congress and Kerala Students Union (student wing of Congress) workers from KPCC junction in Ernakulam. About six workers are taken into custody.

The police have arrested 27 Youth Congress workers at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam for shutting down South Indian Bank and for blocking vehicles.

In Malappuram district, the office of Deputy Directorate of Education was forced to shut by a mob. A KSRTC bus passenger in Kollam district was hurt after Youth Congress workers pelted stone towards the bus.

Idukki saw a series of incidents that affected normal life. Youth Congress workers blocked vehicles in Idukki’s Kumily, Kattappana, Vandiperiyar and Thodupzha. A total of 30 Congress workers were arrested in Idukki and 200 workers have been taken into preventive custody.

Fifteen Congress workers, including Congress mandalam president Biju Daniel and Youth Congress Assembly mandalam president Robin Karakkat, were arrested in Kumily.

In Vandiperyar, the hartal supporters and the police clashed, injuring three members. The police also took many workers in preventive custody to avoid law and order situation. Two police officials, too, have been injured. 

Several tourists in Munnar and Thekkady were also affected as several shops remained shut.  

In Kottayam district, hartal supporters attacked a showroom, destroying its windows. The police registered a case against this.   

Meanwhile, shops in Thiruvananthapuram have been exempted from hartal by Youth Congress due to Attukal Pongala, a famous festival of Attukal temple in the district.

Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi, an association of shop owners in the state, has expressed displeasure over the hartal. The association has urged all its members to keep their shops open on the hartal day. However, an association member in Kozhikode district was locked inside his shop by Youth Congress activists when he opened shop as usual.

(With inputs from Neethu Joseph and Sandeep Vellaram)

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