Hundreds of patients including women and children at the Kottayam Government Medical College hospital and the Institute of Child Health (ICH) had a harrowing time as the local trading community, including medical shops, observed a day-long hartal on Friday in protest against raising the Hospital to referral status. The hartal was from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All shops, including medical shops, remained closed and auto and taxi services were kept off the road. The hartal supporters diverted bus services to the Medical College Hospital and the ICH midway, forcing women to carry their children for kilometers to the hospitals. The patients had a difficult time as they could not buy medicines as the shops remained closed. The by-standers were put into difficulty as hotels too remained closed.

The hartal was called by the Coordination Committee for Protection of Public Health. Vyapari-Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithy, Vyapari Vyavasayi Samithy, Gandhinagar Powra Samithy, Chemists and Drugists Association, and auto and taxi operators participated in the hartal.

Tension prevailed in the area as the hartal supporters diverted buses coming to the Medical College Bus Stand. Buses coming from Ettumanru side were stopped at Ammancherry junction and diverted to Adichira side while buses coming from Kottayam to the Medical College Bus Stand, from Temple junction. Attempts by the police to interfere led to tension. On more than one occasion, the attempt of the hartal supporters to divert buses led to altercation between them and the passengers.

Meanwhile, the Gandhi Nagar police said the hartal was peaceful and no cases have been registered in connection with the incidents during the hartal.

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