Sabarimala issue: Street protests mark Kerala hartal

20 offices of CPI(M) and its allies attacked; Clashing BJP, CPI(M) workers lathicharged

Updated - December 03, 2021 10:09 am IST

Published - January 03, 2019 08:19 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Police guard at the damaged Kerala Cooperative Employees Union Office during a hartal called by the Sabarimala Karma Samiti (SKS) and BJP in Thiruvananthapuram on January 3, 2019.

Police guard at the damaged Kerala Cooperative Employees Union Office during a hartal called by the Sabarimala Karma Samiti (SKS) and BJP in Thiruvananthapuram on January 3, 2019.

Hurling crude bombs and stones, pro-Hindutva groups on Thursday fought pitched battles with the police and political rivals in Kerala, leaving scores injured, including three BJP workers in a knife attack, officials said.

The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi (SKS), an umbrella organisation of various groups, to protest against the entry of two women of reproductive age into the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday crippled the State.

As the State was rocked by protests, Sasikala, 46, a Sri Lankan woman offered prayers at the shrine after climbing the ‘18 holy steps’ around 9.30 p.m. and returned to Pampa by 11 p.m., police said. SKS activists turned back another woman, identified as Deepa, midway at Marakootam on the 4 km trek to the temple.

Throughout the day, protesters were on the streets, placing burning tyres and granite blocks on the roads, bringing traffic to a halt at several places. They attacked over 20 offices of the CPI(M) and its allies, and clashed with the police, leaving at least 31 personnel injured.

The streets were deserted in many places as people kept indoors. However, in places like Edappal in Malappuram district, traders offered stiff resistance against attempts to shut shops.

The hartal left long-distance commuters stranded at bus stations and railway terminals. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation — 79 buses of whose buses were damaged — scaled down operations.

Curfew in Palakkad

The police said Palakkad, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur bore the brunt of the violence. Police lobbed teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse clashing BJP and CPI(M) workers in Palakkad. Later, curfew was imposed in Palakkad town and Chettukundu in Kasaragod district.

In Thrissur, alleged Social Democratic Party of India workers stabbed three BJP activists who attempted to close a hotel run by a minority community member.

As the hartal called in protest against Wednesday’s entry of young women into the Sabarimala shrine turned violent across Kerala, Nedumangadu and Malayankeezhu near Thiruvananthapuram witnessed pitched battles between BJP and CPI(M) workers. The police lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the mobs.

Anonymous persons exploded a cracker near the local station. Persons suspected to be CPI(M) workers vandalised the houses of three municipal counsellors in Nedumangadu. Several police officers were injured. The bandh supporters turned their ire against journalists in Thiruvananthapuram, injuring a few and damaging their cameras.

( With PTI inputs )

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