Hartal disrupts life in pockets, largely peaceful

Hartal supporters take out a protest march in Kannur on Tuesday against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Hartal supporters take out a protest march in Kannur on Tuesday against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.   | Photo Credit: S.K. MOHAN

Passers-by injured in stone-throwing in Kannur

Scattered attacks on passing vehicles, impassioned street protests, shuttered shops, deserted roads, ill-attended Government offices, and sweeping arrests marked the hartal called by a cluster of organisations in protest against the “anti-Muslim” provisions of the Citizen Amendment Act here on Tuesday.

The hartal, called by the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and allied organisations under the aegis of the Joint Action Council (JAC), was mostly peaceful but intense in pockets across Kerala.

At Iritty in Kannur, hartal supporters threw stones at a car, injuring three persons, including two children. In Thiruvananthapuram, the police fired water jets to quell a protest march that threatened to turn violent.

The police declaration that the strike was “unlawful” scarcely deterred demonstrators, a considerable number of them women, who took to the street in sizeable numbers. They impeded vehicular traffic, staged sit-in demonstrations, waved flags, charged the police, toppled traffic barricades and forced the closure of shops across the State. The hartal appeared most severe in Thiruvananthapuram, Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad, and Alappuzha.

A television capture of the police removing two sloganeering women protesters from the road in Kannur appeared emblematic of the emotive nature of the agitation. “Statelessness was worse than death,” they shouted.

The hartal, disavowed by major Muslim social organisations and political parties, disrupted life in some measure.

Preventive arrests

It prompted the arrest and preventive detention of 541 people. Private buses and autorickshaws remained off the road. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation scaled down its schedules. Train and airline services remained unaffected. Private buses, autorickshaws, taxis and private cars remained off the road for the better part of the day. Two-wheelers plied as usual.

Eateries remained closed. Hospitals worked on skeletal staff.

Students hit

The hartal hampered engineering students from reaching their examination centres in time, leading to protests in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

The police have registered scores of cases of unlawful assembly, rioting and disrupting official duty against protesters.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 5:32:25 PM |

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