Several people, including foreign tourists, get stranded

The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Left Democratic Front (LDF), in protest against the move to implement the recommendations of the K. Kasturirangan Committee on conservation of the Western Ghats, was peaceful in the State capital on Monday.

Barring two incidents, one of an autorickshaw being pelted with stones near Palayam and another of hartal-sympathisers attempting to barge into the taluk office at Attingal, no untoward incidents were reported from the district, A.J. Thomaskutty, District Police Chief (Thiruvananthapuram Rural), said.

Earlier in the day, city and rural services of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) kept off the road, with only services to Sabarimala operating from the capital. Passengers who reached the Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station had a tough time with autorickshaws too staying off the road. Several people who alighted at the railway station found solace when the city police offered to drop them at various places including the medical college. A tourist group from Spain too was helped to find transport to a resort by the police.

Among those hit by the absence of KSRTC buses and autorickshaws were a father-daughter duo from Thrissur, who had to walk several kilometres to reach their rented room at Thampanoor after the father sought treatment at the Regional Cancer Centre. With shops and all commercial establishments, including small pan shops remaining shut, getting even a bottle of drinking water was a tough task in the city. Kate and Steve, a couple from Ukraine along with their baby Sophia, were seen walking all the way from the Thampanoor railway station beyond Palayam in search of a hotel. The family had reached the city from Varkala where they were on a holiday.

There were several others, in ones and twos, who were assisted by youngsters on two-wheelers who took it on themselves to help those stranded at the bus-station and the railway station, including at Pettah.

A few voluntary organisations too came to the help of hapless commuters by offering lifts in cars, a couple of private autorickshaws and motorbikes.

The situation eased towards noon and by 4 p.m., the streets slowly woke up as more four-wheelers were seen plying and a few shops lifting shutters.