All parties observe hartal in Munnar in protest
KATTAPPANA: At least 13 policemen including a Circle Inspector and 30 activists of the Co-ordination Agitation Council led by the High Range Samrakshana Samithy were injured when the 16-day old agitation by the Samithy in front of the RDO office at Devikulam in Idukki district turned violent and the police resorted to a lathicharge on Wednesday morning.
The injured also included some women activists of the council. All the injured have been admitted to the Munnar Tata Tea General Hospital and Adimaly Taluk Hospital.
In protest against the incident, an action council of all parties including the CPI (M), the CPI, the Congress, the BJP, the DMK and the AIADMK, observed a hartal in Munnar and Devikulam grama panchayats on Wednesday afternoon. The hartal will continue on Thursday also.
According to Munnar police, the agitators attacked the police when they were trying to remove the strikers who had blockaded Sub-Collector Pranab Jyothinath when he reached the RDO office in his vehicle. The vehicle was also damaged by the agitators. Mr. Jyothinath was also injured in the attack, according to reports.
The Samithy had decided to intensify their agitation on Tuesday as there was little response to their demands including withdrawal of notices issued by the Revenue Department and issuance of title to the farmers. About 250 activists including 50 women were on a dharna in front of the RDO office, sources said.
When the police party from Munnar reached the spot, the agitators demanded the arrest of women activists first, the police said. However, there was only one woman constable with the police team. While trying to arrest the agitators, stones were pelted on the police party.
Earlier, the Sub-Collector had contacted the District Collector Ashok Kumar Singh, who told the agitators that the Revenue Minister would have a meeting with them at Thiruvananthapuram. However, the agitators insisted that the discussions be held in Munnar and demanded immediate assurances from the authorities.
Meanwhile, Munnar grama panchayat president Y.Nadarajan, who was in Thiruvananthapuram told The Hindu on Wednesday afternoon that he had met the Revenue Minister and apprised him of the situation in Munnar.
According to sources in the Co-ordination Agitation Council, the hartal will continue after Thursday till an assurance from the authorities is received.
The hartal observed in Munnar and Devikulam grama panchyats in the afternoon was total with shops and business establishments remaining closed and vehicles keeping off the roads.
Those who were injured included Munnar Circle Inspector G.Balachandran, Sub Inspector K. R. Biju, ASI K.O.Joseph, constables Lijamol, C. B. Suresh, Basheer of Devikulam police station and seven others of the KAP battalion. The injured members of the co-ordination Agitation Council included Devikulam grama panchayat vice-president Mariyappan.