Day-long hartal in Kasaragod today

The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the State on Thursday to protest against party Kannur district secretary P. Jayarajan’s arrest in connection with the Abdul Shukkoor murder case resulted in widespread violence and claimed the life of a DYFI worker in Kasaragod district. With the hartal assuming violent dimensions, life virtually ground to a halt across the State.

T. Manoj (24), Thachankad Keekkanam unit secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), was found dead following a skirmish between CPI(M) and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) activists. While the CPI(M) accused the IUML activists of having beaten Manoj to death, the IUML leadership said its workers had nothing to do with the death.

The Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) has called a day-long hartal in Kasaragod on Friday in protest against what it termed Manoj’s killing. The State DYFI has announced that it would observe Friday as ‘black day.’ The police have registered a case for murder and taken 15 persons into custody in connection with Manoj’s death. The administration has issued prohibitory orders in Kasaragod district till Sunday.

Two other deaths

In two other hartal-related incidents, a CPI(M) worker and a block-level functionary of the Congress collapsed and died in Palakkad and Alappuzha districts. Shanmugham, the CPI(M) worker, collapsed and died at Mangalam in Palakkad while participating in a demonstration by the hartal activists and Mannancherry Block Congress Committee president M.M. Basheer collapsed as he was taking part in a protest rally by Congress activists in Alappuzha district.

Hartal activists hurled stones at several police stations and around 100 party offices across the State. As many as 50 local-level offices of the Congress, 17 IUML offices and two Socialist Janata (Democratic) offices came under attack in Kannur and Kasaragod districts. Several CPI(M) offices were attacked by Congress and IUML activists in retaliation, particularly in Kannur district. In Alappuzha, the District Congress Committee (DCC) office and vehicles parked outside the office, including that of the DCC president, came in for attack.

Media attacked

In many places, there was direct confrontation between activists of the CPI(M), IUML, and the Congress and tension prevailed in several parts even after the hartal concluded at 6 p.m. At Kuttiyadi, an IUML worker Puthalath Amir was stabbed following CPI(M)-League clashes. Several media institutions also came under attack from the hartal supporters. The police and the hartal activists came face to face at Irikkur, Sreekantapuram, and Mattannur in Kannur and several places in south Kerala. The police had to wield lathis to disperse violent mobs trying to block roads in several other parts of the State. At Vengeri, the hartal supporters attacked the vehicle of the assistant police commissioner.