A statewide dawn-to-dusk hartal has been called in Kerala by the opposition BJP after the murder of its party worker in Kannur on Wednesday. The initial hours showed a total shutdown in financial nerve-centre Kochi and capital Thiruvananthapuram. The roads were deserted as buses and other public vehicles stayed off. State transport KSRTC buses were also not plying. There were also reports of a shop being set on fire in Kozhikode.
On Wednesday, the BJP alleged that Ramit, a party worker, was hacked to death by CPM workers in Pinarayi town in Kannur district. Police said armed men on bikes stood ready with swords waiting for Ramit to step out of his house. They attacked him in the presence of his mother and sister. Although he was taken to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries. The attack took place in Dharmadam, the constituency represented by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Ramit’s father Uthaman, a bus driver, was also killed by alleged CPM workers in May, 2002.
“Kannur has been the epicentre of Marxist violence in Kerala. That such a spiral of violence has been unleashed on people in the native village of the state’s Chief Minister reflects the true motive of the ruling LDF alliance,” said BJP president Amit Shah.
Ramit’s murder was the sixth such incident in Kannur this year alone. The district is known to be politically sensitive and has a history of frequent clashes between Left and BJP/RSS workers, extracting a significant number of casualties on both sides. Ramit’s murder followed the killing of a CPM member Mohanan by an armed gang inside a toddy shop where he was working as a salesman on Monday. The CPM alleged that Mohanan’s murder was carried out by workers loyal to the RSS. That Mohanan’s killing also took place in Dharmadam is likely to be a sore point for the chief minister who has promised better law and order in the state under his administration.