The United Democratic Front in Kerala has called for a statewide shutdown on Monday to protest against the central and state government’s ‘anti-people policies’ and the rising fuel prices. The hartal that has been called from 6 am will continue till 6 pm in the evening.
While, leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala has assured that the protest will be peaceful, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has warned of strict action against those disrupting normal life. “Stern action would be taken against those who force traders to down shutters or threaten people who report for work in offices. Necessary protection would be given to passenger buses to operate service. Police would strengthen patrolling, would keep a vigil at government offices and courts to ensure their normal functioning,’’ said an official communication from the CMO. We are getting you coverage with our correspondent Vishnu Varma who is bringing live updates from the ground.
Kerala hartal Highlights | Read in Malayalam
12.36 pm: In Thiruvananthapuram, UDF workers took out a march to the Secretariat from Palayam Marty’s Column raising slogans against the union and state governments, as reported by PTI.
12.10 pm: Incidents of stone pelting on KSRTC buses were reported from Aryanad and Parasala, reports PTI. In Kochi, a government bus on its way to Guruvayur from Alapuzha was stoned and its window panes damaged at Palarivattom. In Thrissur, police took into custody activists as they stoned vehicles.
There were also reports of forcible closure of shops.
11.06 am: Leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala who is behind the hartal said, “Don’t need the kind act of decreasing Rs 2 after increasing Rs 15 as fuel price.” He also targeted the central government on Twitter. “The maximum interest on investment in banks is 7%, and the GST on hotel food is 12%. Respond against the anti-people Govt.”
— Ramesh Chennithala (@chennithala) October 16, 2017
Don’t need the kind act of decreasing Rs 2 after increasing Rs 15 as fuel price#UDFProtest
— Ramesh Chennithala (@chennithala) October 16, 2017
11.03 am: Because there are very few vehicles plying on the road, electrical repair work is being carried out in multiple places.
10.59 am: The police is also helping the people to commute from one place to another.
10.41 am: Meet the NGO that is ferrying the passengers during the hartal
While the hartal has partially affected the movement of people, a few volunteers and organisations are trying to ease the situation. One such volunteer, Manoj Kotecha has been ferrying people to different locations since 6 am in the morning. He is a businessman working in Mattanchery but decided to volunteer last night. The windshield of his car also has a poster that reads ‘Say no to hartals’. This is also the name of the NGO that is helping to transport residents from one place to another. Anyone who has car can volunteer to help the people. Manoj who had come to Kaloor bus stand with four passengers will continue ferrying people till 12 pm after which another volunteer will take over.
10.26 am: While the metro is functioning, very few passengers can be seen at the station and in the metros.
10.13 am: Except medical shops, all shops and restaurants are closed in Kochi.
10.01 am: “For drunkards and lazy people, it’s like a festival today. They stock up on booze. Since today is Monday, it’s like an extended weekend. I stay in Kadavanthra. I had work today but the owner of the land plot has not come. Work won’t happen today.” Ani, a daily wage labourer said. Another commuter Soorya who works in Wellington says she will have to take a leave from her office because she hasn’t been able to take a bus despite waiting for an hour. “Prathirodham (resistance) is needed but you cannot torture people. Hartal has really affected me. Political parties are only doing this to further their interests,” she added.
9.53 am: A woman catching a bus at Edapally saw the hartals as a reaction to the policies of the government. She however, hoped for a peaceful agitation. “When you have price rise and improper implementation of GST, you need a reaction. You need a protest but people shouldn’t be affected. High Court has said this.” Another commuter who was going to the railway station was angry with the repeated strikes in the state. “In Kerala, you have hartal on 300 days. It’s impossible to live here. People here won’t do the work themselves and won’t let others work also.”
9.40 am: In a live video on Facebook, Leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala spoke about the reason behind the daylong shutdown in the state. Talking about the hartal, he said the protest has been called to bring government’s attention to the problems faced by poor, commoners and fixed wage workers. He also requested people to participate in the movement against BJP which is “looting the people” and the state government which “doesn’t mind the extra money received through fuel prices.” He also lashed out at the state government for failure of the law and order in the state and the increasing farmer suicides.
9.38 am: Speaking about the hartal, a man waiting at the bus stop said, “It’s all politics. There was no need for a hartal. Ksrtc buses are running. Metro is also there. I have to go to Kaloor.”
9.30 am: In a huge relief to the people, the metro is operating in the state.
9.29 am: Shops in Edapally are closed because of the protest. However, private vehicles can be seen on the roads.
9.02 am: Exams of Kerala University, MG University and Kannur University have been postponed in the wake of the protests.
8.50 am: Taking to Twitter, Vijayan said, “Will ensure security of public in the wake of hartal declared on 16.10.2017. State police chief directed to make necessary arrangements.” He also said that police patrolling will be strengthened and that smooth functioning of offices, court, and institutions will be ensured.
8.40 am: Milk delivery has been exempted from the strike.
8.30 am: A petition has been filed before the Kerala HC challenging the shutdown in the state today. The court has asked Chennithala to explain the reason behind the strike.
8.20 am: The government has warned the protesters to refrain from forcefully asking people to join the protests.