Terming the violence during the hartal called by the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Kerala as a “premeditated” one, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday insisted that the culprits would not be spared.
“In yesterday’s hartal, led by the PFI, Kerala witnessed pre-meditated violence. The state witnessed an organised and violent interference from their part resulting in huge loss to the state,” Vijayan was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. “They were attacking in a pre-planned manner resulting in a huge loss to the State. It is highly condemnable.”
The Kerala chief minister was speaking at a senior police officers association’s event at Thiruvananthapuram.
Lauding the efforts of the police, CM Vijayan said they took stern action in controlling the violence. “Strong action was taken and many were arrested. Police have started identifying those who engaged in violence covering their faces. We will identify them and no culprit would be spared. Police will bring those responsible to justice,” Vijayan added.
On Thursday, multi-agency operations led by National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out searches in 11 states and arrested over 100 activists of PFI for allegedly supporting terror activities.
In reaction, the PFI called a hartal on Friday that turned violent and damaged vehicles, hurled explosives and vandalised establishments across Kerala. The High Court stepped in to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings against the outfit and its state general secretary.
As many as 70 state-run passenger buses were attacked, leaving 11 crew members injured. In many places, PFI members forced shops to down their shutters.
Police said 170 people were arrested, 368 were taken into preventive custody and 157 cases were registered in connection with hartal-related violence.
(With PTI inputs)