The dawn-to-dusk hartal call by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Bharathiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance to protest the hike in prices of petroleum products was total in the district on Monday.
The protest was relatively incident-free in the city and suburbs. Shops and commercial establishments remained closed for the better part of the day. Public transport buses, private cars, autorickshaws and taxis stayed off the road. Two-wheelers plied as usual.
Unidentified persons threw stones at Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses at Parassala on Sunday night. No incidents of forced closure of shops or violence were reported, the police said.
A small group of hartal supporters attempted to block the vehicle of Congress legislator A.P. Abdullakutty at Vithura around 4 p.m. The MLA was travelling in a Maruti Swift car along with two others, including former panchayat president Reghuchandran Nair and one Mujib, a lawyer. One Prasad, a real estate dealer, his wife and son, were tailing the MLA in a Mercedes Benz car.
The police said Mr. Abdullahkutty and Mr. Prasad were returning from Ponmudi, where Mr. Prasad had booked few rooms. The MLA told the police that he had gone to attend a personal function. They drove their vehicles into the Vithura police station and continued on their journey to the city an hour later.
Several Ministers, including Home Minister Kodiyer Balakrishnan and Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, expressed solidarity with hartal supporters by walking to the Legislative Assembly from their official residences in the city.
Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had initially planned to walk all the way to the Assembly from his official residence, Cliff House, early in the morning. But rain forced him to give up the attempt. He travelled by his official car to the Assembly complex before the start of the hartal at 5.50 a.m.
The police operated special buses to transport MLAs from outlying districts and from the Central Railway station to the Legislative Assembly complex. The legislators allowed passengers who alighted at the station to travel along with them in the bus to Statue and Palayam.
The police commandeered extra buses and vehicles to transport passengers from the railway station and the airport to hotels and other key destinations in the city. They also helped transport sick and aged people, including pregnant women and children, to hospitals.
The hartal caused much difficulty to passengers who disembarked at the international airport and also railways stations in the district. Many had to pay exaggerated fare to autorickshaw and taxi drivers willing to risk the wrath of hartal supporters and transport them to their destinations. Students and professionals living in lodges had a difficult time trying to source food. With most restaurants remaining closed, they had to rely on wayside eateries that opened for business late in the afternoon.