Bracing up to defy future shutdowns

Traders rue poor police protection

Published - January 04, 2019 12:55 am IST - KOCHI

A large number of traders, defying the hartal, opened their shops on Broadway in the city on Thursday. The police and district administration offered protection to the shopkeepers.

A large number of traders, defying the hartal, opened their shops on Broadway in the city on Thursday. The police and district administration offered protection to the shopkeepers.

Despite a call by different trade organisations to defy the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by Sangh Parivar organisations on Thursday, shops and business establishments largely remained closed with merchants and traders ruing poor police protection and repeated threats from hartal enforcers.

About 50% of the shops and business establishments in rural areas opened for business on the strike day. But in the city, barring exceptions like some establishments at Broadway and Menaka shopping complex, business establishments remained closed, said P.A.M. Ibrahim, district president of Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi.

Major trading hubs such as Aluva saw businesses closing down immediately after the opening hours as hartal enforcers turned up in large numbers to order closure of shops.

Nazeer Babu of Aluva Merchants’ Association said there were not enough police officers to help the traders who wanted to remain open.

S. Gopakumar, president of Better Kochi Response Group and part of the coalition of trade, transport, tourism bodies against hartal, said the threat of violence that started ominously from Wednesday onwards had created fear, which forced merchants and traders to down shutters. However, he said there were signs of defiance on the part of the business establishments as a considerable number of shops opened for business.


Transport operators could not operate services as there was not enough police protection and a bus came under attack near Aluva. The Joint Action Council Against Hartals would meet on Friday to discuss the future plan of action, he said.

Mr. Ibrahim said merchants would also meet to discuss the hartal on Thursday. They had already declared their intention to remain open during the upcoming national strike on January 8 and 9, he said.

“We are meeting all political parties in the coming days to convey our feelings that businesses should be spared from the frequent hartals,” said V.K. Thankachan, a wholesale vegetable merchant in Aluva.

Attendance at the district civil station was 57 out of a total employee strength of around 175. The hartal did not affect the Infopark operations. Sources said around 60% of the employees turned up for work and the rest worked from home.

Meanwhile, banks and financial institutions remained closed. Commodity trade in Mattancherry and fisheries operations at the Thoppumpady harbour were at a standstill.

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