The dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) on Monday was almost total and by and large peaceful across the State.
Barring an instance of minor skirmish between workers of the CPI(M) and the Indian Union Muslim League at Koorachund in Kozhikode and isolated incidents of stone-throwing at vehicles, the hartal passed off without major incidents of violence.
The hartal mainly affected vehicular traffic.
Only a few private cars and two-wheelers plied. The KSRTC operated 720 buses. As many as 349 services were operated to Pampa and Nilackal and 148 services from Pampa to various destinations. Rail and air passengers, particularly tourists, had a tough time negotiating their way to their destinations. Markets, offices and educational institutions remained mostly shut and attendance in government institutions was far less than usual.
The hilly districts of Idukki and Wayanad witnessed stronger emotions on the road. Thousands took to the streets in Idukki in what the High Range Protection Council has named ‘Occupy the Streets’ stir. The 48-hour agitation, which began at Sunday midnight, would continue on Tuesday. WGEEP chairman Madhav Gadgil and P.T. Thomas, MP, who had endorsed the Gadgil report, were burned in effigy by the agitators at several places in Idukki. Thamarassery in Kozhikode and Kottiyur in Kannur saw heavy police deployment to avoid recurrence of violence in the areas. In Thiruvananthapuram, LDF workers staged a demonstration in front of the secretariat. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy accused the Opposition of calling the hartal on specious grounds. Pointing to Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan’s endorsement of the Gadgil report and CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan’s position that Kasturirangan report should be implemented after allaying the fears of the people, he asked the CPI(M) to clarify which was its official stand on the issue.
Mr. Vijayan retorted that the Chief Minister was playing mischief over the issue to escape public ire.