KERALA

General strike hits normal life

Stray incidents of violence in some parts of the State

Kerala Bureau

THIRUVANANTHAPRUAM: The 24-hour general strike organised by the Trade Union Sponsoring Committee to protest against the anti-labour and anti-people economic policies of the United Democratic Front Government was marked by stray incidents of violence in some parts of the State on Tuesday. Two KSEB jeeps were set on fire at Chathannur in Kollam district. A few shops were stoned and forcibly closed down by the strike supporters.

A 52-year-old ailing man of Arimbur, near Thrissur, reportedly died as he could not be taken to the hospital.

This time people had taken the strike call more seriously as the organisers were expected to take a tough stand because of the aggressive police action on activists of the pro-Left Democratic Front students and youth organisations who were on the warpath ever since the commencement of the Centralised Allotment Process on July 1 over the self-financing college issue. Normal life was hit and it was like a curfew-declared territory in many parts of the State. Footpath tea vendors chose not to do any business. Shops and other commercial establishment remained closed and vehicles, including KSRTC and private buses, did not ply. Even cyclists and two-wheeler riders were also fewer than usual.

Low attendance

Attendance of employees in Government offices and teachers in Government schools was low even though the Government had declared a dies non. Private educational institutions too did not function. Banks functioned but they had few customers.

Vehicles stay off road

Motor and petrol bunk workers had declared support for the strike. Because of this, private buses and other vehicles kept off the road.

The KSRTC did not operate services as several of its buses were vandalised by agitators during the last few days.

The picture was far from rosy in the industrial belt of Ernakulam. State general secretary of the CITU P.K. Gurudasan thanked the workers and the Government employees on the sponsoring committee's behalf for making the strike a success. The Government was not abandoning its anti-people policies in spite of the severe political setbacks suffered by it.

By surrendering to the policies of imperialism and globalisation, it was leading the State to its destruction. The strike was a warning against it, he added.

Solidarity

The members of the Opposition boycotted part of the day's proceedings in the State Assembly on Tuesday to express their solidarity with the Leftist trade unions. Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan announced the boycott soon after the zero hour in the House.

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