Shutdown over Kathua rape and murder hits life in Kerala

PTI file photo for representational purpose only

An ‘unofficial’ shutdown called through social media to protest against the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir set off clashes in some parts of Kerala on Monday.

The protests also led to arrests and road blockades in northern districts of the state.

Shops and business establishments remained closed in parts of Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur districts. The protesters also forcibly closed down shops. 

Buses and private vehicles were stopped by hartal supporters in many areas in the northern districts. Protesters attacked a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus in Kasaragod, injuring the driver.

Bus services in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram city were also disrupted.

Police resorted to caning to disperse protesters in Kannur and Malappuram. In Kannur, 15 protesters were detained while in Thanoor, Malappuram, clashes left about 10 policemen injured.

Support for the hartal was mobilised on Sunday through social media groups. Since the shutdown was not backed by any political outfit, the impact of the ‘hoax hartal’ came in as a surprise for many.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, state secretary of the ruling CPM, criticised “divisive” interests behind the shutdown. He said the Kathua incident was being used as a front to unleash violence and extremist outfits were using it to create communal tension. BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan sought from the state police chief, action against people who organised violent protests as part of the shutdown.

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