Stray incidents of violence during Youth Congress hartal in Kerala

Hartal in Kerala after two Youth Congress workers hacked to death in Kasaragod
Agitators burn tyres on national highway in Kannur.

Kasaragod: Stray incidents of violence were reported during the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Youth Congress (YC) in Kerala on Monday after two of its workers were hacked to death by unidentified assailants in Kasaragod late Sunday night.

Hartal did not have an impact in the initial hours as it was announced late night and people came to know about it very late. The hartal was called past midnight by the Youth Congress leadership through social media, hours after its workers were hacked to death.

KSRTC buses conducting services with police protection in Kozhikode.

Roads and national highways were blocked in various places and state-owned buses were stoned on Monday.

Youth Congress activists blocked vehicles in various districts including Kozhikode, Kollam, Idukki, Malappuram and Ernakulam. KSRTC buses were pelted with stones by the protesters at several places. Shops and hotels also remained closed at many places.

Hartal in Kerala after two Youth Congress workers hacked to death in Kasaragod
Youth Congress workers block road in Malappuram.

The state capital Thiruvananthapuram was exempted from the protest in view of the famous temple festival, Attukal Pongala, on February 20.

Protesters at Palakkad KSRTC depot.

One worker was injured in stone pelting in Ernakulam. He was taken to the Ernakulam Medical College Hospital.  

The KSRTC curtailed its services from Palakkad depot after stones were hurled at the buses.

The Kerala High Court on Monday flayed the Youth Congress for calling an impromptu hartal. The sudden call for hartal is in violation of the HC ruling that said no strike can be called in the state without a prior notice of at least seven days.

Youths killed

Sharathlal and Kripesh were hacked to death allegedly by ruling CPI(M) workers at Periya in Kasaragod district on Sunday night.

"Two youths have been killed. We have just confirmed the identity of the deceased. Further investigation is on," the police said.  

Youth Congress workers with the body of slain activist Krupesh at Kasaragod general hospital.

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala lashed out at the ruling CPM and expressed his strong protest against the double murder.

Passengers, who arrived at the Kozhikode railway station Monday morning, had a harrowing time as public transport kept off the roads.

"The CPM is trying to destroy the Congress party using the party goons. The Youth Congress activists were attacked without any provocation. They were not involved in any kind of criminal activities. No cases were there against them. The government should identify the culprits and arrest them as soon as possible," Chennithala told media persons.

He also alleged that the murder was a conspiracy hatched by the CPM as the Lok Sabha elections are near.

Hartal in Kerala after two Youth Congress workers hacked to death in Kasaragod
Police keep a watch near Kozhikode railway station. Photo: Russell Shahul

However, CPM district secretary M V Balakrishnan Master categorically denied any role of his party in the killings.

"We strongly condemn this murder. We are against murderous politics. We don't have any role in this," he told mediapersons.

KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran has cancelled the functions related to his Janamahayathra and would head to Kasaragod.

KSU workers block buses in Ernakulam.

Sources said the workers were returning home after attending a local function on Sunday night and they were stopped by a gang of unidentified people who came in a car and hacked them to death.

The identity of the attackers was yet to the confirmed, the police said.

Educational bandh

Kripesh (L) and Sharathlal, both hailing from Kalliyode near Periya.

The Kerala Students Union (KSU), the student's wing of the Congress, has called for an educational bandh in the state. The SSLC model exam scheduled to be held Monday has been postponed. Kerala, MG, Calicut and Kannur universities have postponed exams. The revised dates would be announced later.

Kerala Police chief Loknath Behera has instructed all district police chiefs to ensure that law and order was maintained, and to take action against agitators if they tried to block roads or attack people.

Youth Congress state president Dean Kuriakose, however, said that the hartal would be peaceful and would ask the workers to show restrain.

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