70 buses stoned by mobs during Kerala PFI hartal, bomb hurled at RSS office

Updated on Sep 23, 2022 05:50 PM IST

The Kerala high court ordered police to monitor all activist of PFI activists in context of the illegal shutdown and shall place a report detailing incidents and the extent of damage to public and private property.

Police personnel take stock of the damages done to a KSRTC bus after some miscreants threw stones during a PFI shutdown (PTI)
Police personnel take stock of the damages done to a KSRTC bus after some miscreants threw stones during a PFI shutdown (PTI)
By, Thiruvananthapuram

Violence erupted in many parts of Kerala during the Popular Front of India (PFI)-sponsored shutdown in the state on Friday against the countrywide raids against the group, prompting the Kerala high court to order the state police to take strict action against those who destroy public property.

About 70 buses were damaged in incidents of stone-throwing reported from various parts of the state. In a few places, ambulances were also attacked. In north Kerala’s Kannur district, a bomb was thrown at the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s (RSS) office in Mattanur. A vehicle carrying newspapers was also targeted earlier in the day. In another incident later, a man was also arrested with crude bombs.

Thiruvananthapuram: PFI activists march during the ‘hartal’ called by PFI in protest against the nationwide arrest of its leaders by ED and NIA (PTI)
Thiruvananthapuram: PFI activists march during the ‘hartal’ called by PFI in protest against the nationwide arrest of its leaders by ED and NIA (PTI)

According to reports reaching police headquarters in the state capital, nearly 200 people have been arrested for the violence across Kerala. More than 12 bus passengers and six drivers were injured in the violence.

Kerala director general of police (DGP) Anil Kant said strict action will be taken against those who destroyed public properties during the shutdown. “Situation is under control now. Police will not spare anyone,” he said, hours after a bench of the Kerala high court expressed displeasure at the turn of events and ordered the police to act against those indulging in violence.

The high court also suo motu initiated contempt proceedings against PFI functionaries for violating its order not to go ahead with the shutdown and ordered the police to book its state secretary A Abubaker who gave the call for a hartal against the countrywide raids and arrest of PFI office-bearers on Thursday.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the police meekly surrendered to the fundamentalist outfit for hours.

The deserted bus station in Kerala Alapuzha district on Friday during PFI’s 12-hour hartal in the state (HT Photo/Vivek R Nair)
The deserted bus station in Kerala Alapuzha district on Friday during PFI’s 12-hour hartal in the state (HT Photo/Vivek R Nair)

In Kozhikode, a 15-year-old girl and auto driver were injured when their vehicle was stoned, police said. A vehicle of news channel Asianet was also attacked.

In Kollam, two policemen were injured after two men on a motorcycle crashed into them. Police said at many places assailants covered their faces.

In Kottayam’s Irattupetta, police used batons to disperse a group of people who were trying to enforce the shutdown. In Payyanur, local people resisted an attempt by PFI activists to shut establishments and thrashed four activists.

The Kerala state road transport corporation, which ended up with heavy damage to its 70 buses, later put out appeals to the protesters on social media to spare its buses and employees. A photo of bus driver at the wheels with a helmet to shield himself from the PFI stones also emerged on social media.

Kochi: A driver wearing a helmet drives a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus after incidents of stone pelting across Kerala, during the ‘hartal’ called by Popular Front of India (PFI) (ANI)
Kochi: A driver wearing a helmet drives a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus after incidents of stone pelting across Kerala, during the ‘hartal’ called by Popular Front of India (PFI) (ANI)

The government is yet to react to violent incidents.

BJP state president K Surendran said the CPI(M)-led government has restrained the police from stopping violence.

“The government sacrificed the rule of law at the altar of vote bank politics. In most places police remained mute spectators when PFI activists unleashed violence,” he said. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo yatra took a day off on Friday and organisers said it was decided well before the bandh announcement.

In raids by joint teams of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday, NIA said it has arrested 19 PFI leaders and activists in two cases. Among them were PFI idealogue Prof P Koya, national chairman OMA Salam, national secretary Nasaruddin Elamarom and its state president CP Mohammad Basheer.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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