Flash shutdown over Kathua case in Kerala, police intensify crackdown

Hoax call for hartal over Kathua case triggers tension In Kerala. PTI Photo

Vandalism as part of a shutdown called by social media collectives on Monday – to protest the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua region – has led Kerala police to register cases against more than 1,000 people.

As the CPM-led state government moved forward in its crackdown on organisers of the ‘anonymous hartal’ which severely impacted life in northern districts, the alleged role of radical outfits in the shutdown is being probed.

The hartal was called by social media groups on Sunday. Since the shutdown was not backed by any political party, its impact left many surprised. In parts of Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur districts, shops and business establishments remained closed while a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus was attacked in Kasaragod. Road blockades were reported from many areas in the northern districts. Clashes between hartal supporters and the police erupted in Kannur and Malappuram.

Hundreds of protesters were detained on hartal day as cases were registered in the districts of Wayanad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Palakkad. Political parties including the CPM have maintained that the shutdown was organised to create communal tension in the state. “People who planned and executed the clashes will be exposed,” Minister for Local Self Governments and Welfare of Minorities K T Jaleel told reporters. The Indian Union Muslim League has distanced itself from the shutdown.

The BJP alleged administrative failure in handling the agitation and sought a probe by the National Investigation Agency into reports that the hartal supporters intended to trigger communal riots.

The Kerala State Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday that similar shutdowns would be organised again if stringent action is not taken against the culprits. Commission acting chairperson P Mohana Das sought from the State Police Chief a report on action taken regarding the shutdown.

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