Buses attacked, staff prevented from entering offices
Confrontational protest marches, incidents of stone-throwing against State-owned vehicles and transport buses, attack on at least one government office, and destruction of publicity material of ruling front parties marked the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M]-sponsored State-wide dawn-to-dusk general strike, which was near total in the district on Thursday.
The strike was in protest against the arrest of CPI(M) Kannur district unit secretary P. Jayarajan in connection with the murder of Indian Union Muslim League worker Abdul Shukkoor in Kannur on February 20.
Strike supporters threw stones at the police station at Pettah and damaged the windscreens of State-owned public transport buses at Neyyattinkara on the eve of the general strike on Wednesday.
The incidents apparently created an impression that more street violence would ensue the next day. Most residents remained home, watching the day’s events unfold on television.
Attendance was low at government offices. Educational institutions, banks, hotels, and markets remained closed.
State and privately owned public transport buses remained off the road. Scores of ordinary people, who arrived in the city by train and overnight long-distance buses, were stranded for hours at Thampanoor.
They included patients who missed their long-awaited appointments at the Regional Cancer Centre, the Medical College and Dental Hospitals, and other private medical facilities.
Most of the passengers could not afford exorbitant rates charged by the few autorickshaw and taxi drivers who operated their vehicles risking the wrath of strike supporters. They stoically stood in long queues, waiting to be taken in police vehicles, which were in short number, to their respective destinations.
Strike supporters assaulted two government employees who turned up for work at the bus station in Nedumangadu. They blockaded bus terminals and smashed the windscreens of State-owned buses in several outlying localities.
The police said CPI(M) workers stormed the office of the Deputy Director, Education Department, at Killipalam and destroyed furniture and a fish tank.
They prevented employees and visitors, including women, from entering the Kerala University Senate Hall premises.
They stopped a government vehicle in front of the AKG Centre and snatched its ignition keys from the driver.
Ruling front and Opposition supporters clashed at Vizhinjam in the evening, prompting the police to deploy in strength in the communally sensitive coastal locality to prevent escalation of violence. Sub-inspector, Vizhinjam, R. Jayasanil was injured in the clash.
Earlier, Students Federation of India activists smashed government and ruling front publicity boards placed at different points on either side of the arterial M.G. Road. CPI(M) district secretary Kadakampally Surendran led a march to the government Secretariat in the morning.
V. Sivankutty, MLA, who inaugurated the march accused the government of using the police to foist false cases on CPI(M) leaders in a bid to besmirch the party’s standing in public eye. He said the party would muster people against the United Democratic Front’s ‘police State.’
In the evening, Democratic Youth Federation of India leaders S.P. Deepak and Binu I.P. led a protest march to the Secretariat.