New Delhi: The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Popular Front of India (PFI) turned violent in Kerala on Friday, with the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), along with police and commoners, bearing the brunt of the party’s protest against the nationwide crackdown on Thursday. Under the lens for alleged terror activities, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) made some sweeping arrests of its leaders on Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
According to a report by news agency PTI, the Kerala High Court, taking cognisance of the hartal, initiated a case saying the protest was prima facie a contempt of court as it violated the 2019 HC order against such agitations.
Here are the key developments:
- Cutting across cities, the hartal supporters took out protest marches, burnt tyres, blocked vehicles and forcefully downed the shutters of shops in various places.
- Masked men and miscreants went on a rampage, attacking shops in Kozhikode, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts.
- The protesters attacked the KSRTC buses, freight lorries and airport vehicles, and pelted stones across the state. At least 50 state buses were damaged and their windscreens were smashed, officials said, adding over 10 of its employees suffered injuries in stone pelting incidents. Even drivers were seen plying the vehicles with helmets on in a bid to escape stone pelting.
- Police personnel and some commuters suffered injuries in various incidents across the state.
- In Erattupetta of Kottayam, police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse the angry protesters when they tried to block vehicles, closed the shops and threatened the people on road.
- In Kollam, a hartal supporter allegedly hit two police personnel who were on patrolling duty when they tried to stop him from abusing commuters. Manhunt is underway to nab him, police said.
- As per reports, a petrol bomb was hurled at a vehicle carrying newspapers at Narayanpara and a country-made bomb was thrown at a local BJP office in Mattannoor by unidentified persons – both in Kannur.
- A 15-year-old girl and an auto-rickshaw driver suffered minor injuries after PFI activists allegedly pelted stones at them in Kozhikode and Kannur respectively.
- Miscreants attacked a lottery shop at Sankranthi Kavala in Kottayam, while some freight lorries, on their way from Mangaluru, were stopped and their keys snatched away on a national highway in Kannur.
- Another lorry driver, on his way to Erode in Tamil Nadu, suffered severe injuries on his nose and eyes in stone-pelting in Kozhikode. “They attacked us deliberately with an intention to destroy the lorry. The vehicle was parked on the roadside when they came and attacked it. I went to a private hospital for first aid and now I am going to the government hospital for a detailed check-up,” PTI quoted him as saying.
- In Kannur, a group of PFI activists were beaten up by locals when they tried to forcefully down the shutters of shops. Miffed locals reacted strongly, beat up the protesters and handed one of them to the police at the Central Bazar in Payyannur.
- Following hartal call made by PFI on Thursday, there were complaints that police did not act swiftly when miscreants tried to block vehicles and forcefully shut down the shops. DGP Anil Kant said the law and order situation in the state is under control and additional forces were deployed in places required.
- As per reports, a large number of PFI activists were taken into custody by police across the state for engaging in violence on Friday. However, their exact number is not known yet.