Hartal call from nowhere: State witnesses shutdown in many places

Thiruvananthapuram: A hartal call that came from unidentified sources and got transmitted through social media has affected normal life in several places in the state. 

It was via Whasapp that a call for shutdowns across the state surfaced on Sunday morning.  Although no mainstream or even fringe identified groups had given such a call,  nor was there was no ownership of the call mentioned anywhere in the message,  word went round that yet another Monday would see Kerala observing partial or major hartal.   (Two preceding Mondays had such strikes, the first by an all-party grouping against Centre's new labour policy and the second by Dalit organizations against dilution of  Dalit protection legislation in the light of the recent Supreme Court verdict).

Monday morning, online media put up news items to the effect that the hartal call was a fake message, but even 'fake' message had its effect, for soon parts of the state,  especially in northern Kerala, started seeing shops shutting down either out of fear or because groups of people asked them to do.  More affected was vehicular traffic which was also stopped partially or prevented by isolated groups.

Towns so affected, particularly in transport sector, include Kannur,  Kakkarapparamp, Tirurkkad, Kondotty,  Tirur, Manjeri, Perinthalmanna, Kuttippuram in Malappuram district, Kalpetta in Wayanad district, Kasergode town and other parts of the district and parts of Thrissur and Palakkad districts.  

In many places, major roads became the target which had an immediate effect.  State-owned KSRTC buses and private vehicles were by and large allowed to ply.  Police went into action in several places, and tried to remove the road blocks.

Meanwhile Muslims League has distanced itself from the call to hartal.   League's Kerala General Secretary KPA Majeed informed that the party has nothing to do with the hartal.  However, he added that the party would all it can to obtain justice for the victim's family.  The party was also thinking of moving the Supreme Court to shift the case against the accused out of J&K state.   

He also commented that calling for hartal through the social media may be a means of diverting organized and peaceful protests; his party believes in peaceful strikes and legal channels to ensure justice.