Normal life was affected by the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by pro-Left farmers’ organisations in the district in protest against the alleged apathy of the Central government in controlling the decreasing prices of natural rubber. However, the protest passed off peacefully with no major untoward incidents being reported from any parts of the district.

While private service buses, taxis and autorickshaws kept off the roads, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) conducted additional services to certain parts of the district. The inter-district services of the KSRTC remained unaffected. Although the flow of private vehicles was less in the early hours of the day, there was a marked increase in the number of vehicles later in the day. According to the police, private vehicles were obstructed in certain parts including Kanjirappally and Ramapuram during the protest rallies taken out by the activists. However, there were no violent incidents. Units police personnel had been deployed at various places including railway and bus stations. Although government offices and certain financial institutions functioned on the day, low attendance levels were recorded in most places. Most commercial establishments remained shut throughout the day. Educational institutions were also remained closed on account of the district-wide hartal. Mahatma Gandhi University had postponed most of its examinations that were scheduled for the day.

The joint strike committee that consisted of the leaders of the farmers’ wings of the CPI (M), CPI, Nationalist Congress Party and Kerala Congress led by P.C. Thomas had called for the hartal against the apathetic stance of the Central government which has refused to implement the decision of raising import duty of natural rubber from Rs.20 per kg to 20 per cent. The hartal was conducted with the support of the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Protest rallies were taken out in various parts of the district. The demonstration at Kottayam town concluded at Thirunakkara Maidan and was followed by a meeting that was inaugurated by CPI (M) State committee member V.R. Bhaskaran.

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