Strike total in Thiruvananthapuram

The two-day nationwide general strike called by various trade unions in protest against the policies of the Central government was total in the capital district on its first day on Monday.

Demonstrations turned aggressive as unionists impeded public movement in some parts of the district.

With public transport hit, several passengers were forced to wait for long hours and hitchhike rides to reach their destinations. Contrary to Transport Minister Antony Raju’s assurance that the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) would operate a reasonable number of services, the public utility plied only a few trips to the Government Medical College Hospital during the early hours of the day. Many people had to walk long distances in the searing heat to their destinations.

The City police operated bus trips for those headed for the Regional Cancer Centre and the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology. Employees of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and Technopark were ferried to their workplaces with police escort.

While motorists could move freely in many parts of the district, certain areas witnessed private vehicles being ‘screened’ by the agitators. Motorists passing along the National Highway 66 were stopped by supporters of the strike and allowed to pass only after stating their purpose of travel, while the police remained mute spectators. Despite the protesters claiming that they only tried to sensitise the public to the objectives of the nationwide agitation, members of trade unions assaulted two autorickshaw drivers and forcibly disembarked a passenger, headed for a hospital, at Pappanamcode Junction. A railway employee’s car was blocked and turned back by a group of protesters at Pravachambalam.

The agitators blocked the main road at Kattakada using plastic chairs. This led to a brief confrontation with BJP workers, prompting intervention by the police.

Petrol pump vandalised

A petrol pump was vandalised by demonstrators at Mangalapuram. The agitators smashed the glass doors and windows of an office room there. In spite of the police rushing to the spot, the pump operator had to close the facility.

Attendance levels remained low at government offices across the district. Less than 50 out of the nearly 5,000 employees in the Secretariat reported for work, sources said.

‘Reasons valid, timing not’

Commercial areas wore a deserted look as the trading community pledged support to the strike. Abdul Khader, who works in a vegetable wholesale shop at Chala, felt the demands raised by the trade unions were valid since the Centre’s policies were bound to impact the lives of all sections. “But holding the strike for two consecutive days at a time when lives are returning to normalcy could affect several families of daily wagers,” he said.

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Printable version | May 29, 2022 2:33:03 pm |