Kerala

Hartal peaceful but disrupts life

Ruling and Opposition fronts condemn the “needless” strike

The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday disrupted life in some measure but was mostly peaceful.

The BJP had announced the State-wide hartal “to pay homage to the sacrifice of an Ayyappa devotee,” Venugopal Nair, 50, who immolated himself in front of the Secretariat early Thursday, purportedly pained by the government’s disregard for Sabarimala traditions.

Hartal supporters trespassed the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation property in Palakkad and smashed the windscreen of three buses. Minor incidents of stone throwing were reported at irregular intervals.

The Opposition and the ruling front condemned the strike as unwarranted.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked the Centre to restrain the impulsive BJP State leadership from calling general strikes at the drop of a hat. Congress legislator Anil Akkara walked nearly 13 km to his house from the Thrissur railway station to protest the "needless strike."

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the BJP had imposed at least seven general strikes on Kerala since October without any good reason.

Film release

The BJP’s decision not to disrupt the release of a superstar’s film on Friday, purportedly under pressure from the actor's sizeable fans association, also drew criticism from political circles.

The strike had left commuters and long-distance passengers in the lurch. Hundreds remained stranded without transport, food or water at railway stations, bus terminals and airports across the State. Scores of patients and their helpers had to rely on crowded police buses and voluntary free taxi services to keep their hospital appointments.

NEET exam

Students appearing for the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for various postgraduate medical courses struggled to reach the examination centres in time.

Traders oppose strike

At Pangode in Thiruvananthapuram, a set of local traders opposed BJP workers from forcibly closing their shops. Similar stand-offs between traders and hartal supporters were reported from other parts of the State. In Kozhikode, a set of traders took a public pledge not to heed bandh and hartal calls any more. The Democratic Youth Federation of India distributed a limited number of lunch packets to commuters. Ayyappa devotee forums also followed suit.

The hartal was a generally relaxed affair across the State. People attended weddings and went about their business with some wariness. Private cars and motorbikes plied as usual. However, taxis, autorickshaws and public transport buses remained off the road.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 2:31:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hartal-peaceful-but-disrupts-life/article25744691.ece

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