Several incidents of violence were reported from various parts of Kerala during the early hours of the statewide-hartal called by the Popular Front of India (PFI), on Friday, September 23. The dawn-to-dusk hartal was called by the PFI to protest against the raids in the offices and residences of its leaders and their subsequent arrests on Thursday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. Stones were pelted at Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses in various districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Wayanad, and Alappuzha.
Earlier in the day, two police officials were injured after two hartal supporters rammed into them in a speeding motorcycle, while they were patrolling the Pallimukku area in Kollam district. The injured officials were Civil Police Officers Antony and Nikhil, who were trying to prevent protesters from attacking vehicles.
Meanwhile, incidents of vandalism were also reported in Kozhikode district, where a KSRTC bus driver sustained an injury in his eye after a PFI worker smashed the windscreen of the bus. Protesters had also attacked a lorry that was parked on the road in the city, injuring its driver, who has been identified as Jinu Habibulla, who is a native of Varkala.
Things also took a violent turn in Kannur, where an anonymous person on a motorcycle attacked a media vehicle with a petrol bomb. However, no injuries were reported. An airport employee was also attacked while he was on his way back from duty. He is currently under treatment at a Taluk hospital in the district.
Protesters also resorted to stone pelting on several buses and shops across the state. An inter-state KSRTC bus headed for Mookambika was attacked in Valapattanam, injuring a 15-year-old girl. According to reports, police officials said that attacks against KSRTC buses seem rehearsed and planned. Police also had to resort to lathi charge to disperse protesters in parts of Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram districts.
Kerala police have beefed up security in the state and issued directions to the district police chiefs to ensure law and order after the PFI called for a statewide hartal on Friday.
Meanwhile, the state-run KSRTC has informed that it will operate as usual. The transport corporation said special services to hospitals, airports and railway stations will be arranged if necessary and will also seek police protection if needed. PFI on Thursday had said a hartal will be observed in the state on September 23 "against the RSS-controlled fascist government's attempt to silence dissenting voices using the central agencies." The hartal would be held from 6 am to 6 pm, A Abdul Sathar, state general secretary, PFI, had said in the statement.