Protesters throw stones at vehicles, forcibly shut down shops
Only a few private vehicles were seen on the roads till Saturday evening in the city following the State-wide dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the CPI(M) and the BJP.
Bikes dominated the roads, while a few cars were seen during day time. Buses, autorickshaws and goods carriers kept off the road.
The usually busy National Highway too wore an almost deserted look till afternoon. Most shops, barring a few small eateries remained closed till evening. People, especially visitors to the city and those who stay in lodges, had to walk the extra distance to get food.
Buses and passenger ferries resumed service by evening, but trains plied as usual. However, only a few people were seen in most railway stations.
Some people reached their destination on two wheelers brought by their relatives and friends. Attendance was nominal in most government offices.
Police personnel, who were on their toes for a week following the Prime Minister’s visit and the Emerging Kerala summit, had to go sans rest for yet another day.
Incidents of violence
A KSRTC bus driver suffered serious head injuries after a group of youths threw stones at the vehicle near Muvattupuzha early on Saturday morning before the State-wide hartal began at 6 a.m. Ayyappan, the driver, lost control of the vehicle and rammed it into the pillar of a building that was under construction at Pezhakapilly.
The Muvattupuzha police said that Ayyappan; Sunil, the conductor; and Benny, a passenger, have been admitted to a private hospital in Kolenchery. Five persons, who were injured in the accident, were given first aid and discharged.
Based on the account given by passengers, a search is on to locate a gang of four youths who came on two bikes and threw stones at the bus that was heading to Perinthalmanna from Thiruvananthapuram.
The police said that the gang did not seem to have any links with supporters of the hartal. In another case of violence, the police said that a KSRTC bus was stoned at Mulavoor at around 7.30 a.m.
In Muvattupuzha, four persons sitting near a shop suffered injuries when supporters of the hartal tried to forcibly shut down shops. At Chottanikkara, a person sustained injuries in a clash between hartal supporters and a few shop owners who tried to keep their shops open.
Hartal supporters blocked vehicles at some places, but they backed off when the police intervened.
In Kochi city, the CPI(M) took out a march to the BSNL regional office, protesting against the fuel price hike. It was led by P.N. Sinulal, district committee member.
BJP activists staged a march at High Court Junction.