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Workers’ unity to the fore as stir hits life

Special Correspondent
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Only isolated incidents of violence reported; stray two-wheeler riders targeted

It was a rare sight by any reckoning: flags of the CITU, INTUC, AITUC, BMS, and many other unions fluttering over the shoulders of workers marching side by side in a rally before the State Secretariat, symbolic of the workers’ unity on display as the 48-hour strike called by the unions began across the country on Wednesday.

The unity was best manifest in the absence of any major incident of violence in Kerala. Isolated instances of violence, reported mostly from urban centres, related to the occasional skirmish between the agitating workers and stray two-wheeler riders who had ventured out disregarding the unions’ appeal for support for the strike. There were some instances of stone pelting and of strike supporters blocking those who had reported for work at schools and some offices in different parts of the State. Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told reporters here that no major incident of violence had been reported from any part of the State, possibly because all the unions were participating in the workers’ action.

Life hit

The strike brought life to a grinding halt across the State. It hit the functioning of both the Central and State government offices, the State Secretariat here reporting only a little over 30 per cent attendance. There was sparse vehicular traffic on roads and shops, banks, commercial establishments, and markets remained shut. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) did not operate services, save for 10 of them operated from Kaniyapuram to a temple at Pothencode in the suburbs of the capital city. Train and flight services operated normally, but passengers had a tough time reaching their onward destinations as buses, taxis, and autorickshaws stayed off the road.

Blockade

Strike supporters blocked the entrance to the Technopark here till the police removed them. Two women sustained minor injuries when the vehicle in which they were travelling to the Technopark came under stone pelting.

The strike hit the functioning of the Infopark in Kochi. A group of strike supporters assaulted two police personnel attached to the Balussery police station at Koottalida in Kozhikode in the morning. At Vallikkeezhu in Kollam, strike supporters locked up teachers who had reported for duty at the local higher secondary school. Report of a similar incident came in from Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur district as well.

Major trade unions took out rallies in all parts of the State. The rally in the capital was led by R. Chandrasekharan (INTUC), P.K. Gurudasan, Elamaram Karim, and A.K. Balan (CITU), C. Divakaran and Kanam Rajendran (AITUC), Sonia George (SEWA union), among others.

Assaulted

A Correspondent adds from Kattapana: A security staff member of a mobile tower at Vellaneekkipara, near Kuninji, on the Thodupuzha-Pala route was allegedly assaulted early on Wednesday.

The Krimkunnam police said Sukumaran Nair was found by the local people in an unconscious state near the tower in the morning. The police said the victim told them that he was attacked after being blindfolded.

The police said a case had been registered.

Only a detailed investigation would reveal if the attack was carried out by strike supporters.

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