The hartal called by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Idukki on Thursday in protest against the arrest of its leader M.M. Mani the previous day was total and incident-free.

The former district secretary of the CPI(M) was arrested from his house at Kunjithanny, near here, early Wednesday morning in connection with the murder of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) activist Anchery Baby in Udumbanchola taluk in 1982.

A case was registered against Mr. Mani after his speech at a party function near Thodupuzha on May 26 this year when he is reported to have said that the CPI(M) had eliminated three of its political adversaries, including Baby, in the district in the Eighties.

A Special Investigation Team (SIT), led by Inspector General of Police, Ernakulam range, K. Padmakumar, has reinvestigated the case.

Idukki Superintendent of Police George Varghese told The Hindu that road blockade was put up in areas such as Adimaly where CPI(M) activists burnt tyres to block road traffic.

‘CPI not consulted’

Special Correspondent writes from Thiruvananthapuram: Communist Party of India (CPI) legislature party leader C. Divakaran has said that his party has decided not to associated with the CPI(M)-sponsored hartal in Idukki on Thursday because it was not consulted before the hartal decision was taken.

Replying to questions at a news conference here on Thursday, Mr. Divakaran said there was no difference of perception between the CPI State and district leadership on the issue.

The party was opposed to the manner in which former CPI(M) Idukki district secretary M.M. Mani was arrested. The arrest was carried out in a primitive and uncivilised manner, he said.

Action questioned

Mr. Divakaran asked why Mr. Mani was arrested under cover of darkness when he was very much present at home and active in public life in the district. If Mani’s controversial speech was the reason for his arrest, the State Cabinet should resign following what Defence Minister A.K. Antony had said at the BrahMos function.

He had said that he was afraid to bring Central projects to Kerala. If the Defence Minister himself was in the grip of fear, could the Oommen Chandy Cabinet claim the right to remain in office, he asked.

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