BJP-RSS shutdown against murder hits Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram : Thousands were stranded at bus and railway stations across Kerala Tuesday as a BJP-RSS sponsored shutdown to protest the murder of a RSS leader derailed life in the state.

Minor incidents of sporadic attacks on motorists who defied the strike call were reported in parts of Kerala.

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Across Kerala, shops, businesses and markets were deserted. The government declared a holiday for all educational institutions.

Attendance in government offices was said to be thin.

Barring two-wheelers and some private vehicles, the streets were mostly deserted. Buses of the state-owned transport department and private buses did not venture out fearing attacks by protesters.

In some places, a few buses that came on to the roads were stoned by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) activists. The crew quickly called off the service.

The dawn-to-dusk shutdown was called to protest the killing Monday of RSS leader K.T. Manoj in Kannur district.

Unknown assailants first hurled bombs at his vehicle and then attacked him with swords, police said.

Kannur has for years seen clashes between BJP-RSS activists and supporters of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) but the violence had waned in recent times.

Those who reached Kerala by trains and buses found themselves stranded as public vehicles refused to ply.

“We have come from Tamil Nadu and we have to go to a hospital around 50 km away,” complained a male member of a family that reached Eranakulam railway station from Tamil Nadu.

“We did not know about this shutdown when we boarded the train. Now we are stranded here till 6 p.m.,” said the man.

On Tuesday morning, techies working at the Technopark campus here came in convoys escorted by police.

A middle-aged woman told IANS at the airport: “My daughter and I have to depart for Dubai. My aged parents accompanied us to the airport with large stickers pasted on our car windshield that said ‘airport’.

“We were scared. Honestly, no one gains any sympathy by holding people to ransom like this. Political parties must think of other ways of organising protests,” she said.

Police said they were looking for a few CPI-M activists alleged to be behind the murder of RSS activist Manoj.

Former BJP state president P.K. Krishna Das said both the Congress and the CPI-M “are hand in glove against us”.

“We will soon demand a new probe by a different agency into this gruesome murder,” said Das.