Anti-, pro-strike activists clash, three arrested

A spoof on hartals and strikes, organised by a retired school teacher here, provoked a violent reaction from supporters of the 48-hour strike called by trade unions on Thursday, forcing the police to intervene to maintain law and order. Three persons were taken into custody in connection with the incident near Kannancherry bus stop.

The show, organised by Balakrishnan who had caught public attention with programmes that satirised recent social issues, focussed on the nation-wide strike called by trade unions.

Hartal songs

Holding up placards against hartals, Balakrishnan and his supporters sang “hartal songs”. “We need hartal to bring down prices, more hartals to bring prices further down… and to ensure our nation’s development and for people’s welfare,” went the songs. The protesters also offered an award for the organisation that held “the best hartal”.

Just as the anti-hartal activists were about to disperse, heated arguments broke out between them and strike supporters. Balakrishnan alleged he was roughed up by hartal supporters. The police took into custody two from the group of strike supporters and one member of Balakrishnan’s group in connection with the incident.

Balakrishnan said, “We were able to able to put across our point. We agree the functioning of this government is far from satisfactory. And people have a right to protest against government’s failures and to demand better facilities. But hartal as a mode of protest is outdated because it only brings life to a halt and retards development. It is time we devised some other forms of protest. Like the Japanese we must put in more hours of work as a show of protest. Hartal is anti-national. It erodes productivity. No true patriot who wants his nation to prosper should resort to hartal that reverses national development.”