Special Correspondent

KANNUR: The hartal called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the district and in Mahe on Saturday to protest against the killing of two party workers at New Mahe on May 28 was near total. Elsewhere in the district, clashes broke out between Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) workers.

The dawn-to-dusk hartal was called to protest against the murder of BJP workers Vijith and Shinoj. Shops remained closed and most public vehicles were off the roads. The BJP workers were hacked to death allegedly by CPI(M) activists.

Windscreens of three Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses were smashed at Chakkarkkal by hartal supporters. Ashok Kumar, a bus driver, suffered injuries in stone-pelting. KSRTC officials here said that its normal services from here were being operated in the afternoon.

Police were deployed in strength in the tension-hit areas near Thalassery in view of the procession carrying bodies of the BJP workers in the afternoon. The bodies were kept for public viewing at Irattapilakkool before they were taken to East Palloor for funeral.

Sit-in on bridge

Before the bodies reached Mahe bridge around 4 p.m., party workers led by State president V. Muraleedharan staged a sit-in on the bridge for nearly one-and-a-half hours to protest against the arrest of 11 BJP workers by Koothuparamba police as a preventive measure. Road traffic on the National Highway between Mahe and Thalassery was hit by the protest. The police sources said that a few persons were nabbed in connection with the murder of BJP workers. An all-party peace meeting would be held at the Revenue Divisional Officer's chamber at Thalassery on Sunday.

Smoke grenades used

Meanwhile, clashes erupted between CPI(M) and IUML workers at Ezhom in the Pazhayangadi police station limits and at Koranpeedika near Pariyaram on Saturday. The trouble started at Ezhome around 10.30 a.m. An IUML worker was injured in a fight there, the police said. The police used smoke grenades to disperse trouble-makers. The police said that country-made bombs were used in the clash between CPI(M) and IUML workers at Koranpeedika in the afternoon. Four IUML workers injured in bomb blast were hospitalised.

The police said that teargas shells were burst at Koranpeedika to disperse IUML workers.