Shutdown in Kerala to protest dilution of SC/ST act affects normal life

In Kerala’s Kollam, a state-owned bus was stoned. Teachers who were to reach the Class 10 examinations paper valuation camp in the district were held up after traffic was halted. University examinations for the day were rescheduled.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2018 18:21 IST
HT Correspondent, Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala bandh,Kerala shutdown,ST/SC Act
Members of Dalit community organisations stage protest in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday over the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act .(ANI Twitter)

The 12-hour Kerala bandh called by various Dalit organisations to protest the alleged dilution of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and violence against community members in north India affected normal life in the state.

This is the second shutdown in the state in a week. Last Monday, the Bharat Bandh called by Left trade unions had affected the state.

At many places, the second bandh forced closure of shops and business establishments and the running of vehicles. Stray incidents of violence were reported from many places and police arrested at least 100 Dalit activists across the state.

At Kollam, Thrissur and Kannur, activists supporting the bandh pelted stones at government-run buses. At least eight buses were damaged in the attack.

In Kochi, police arrested M Geetanandan, convener of the Joint Dalit Action Council, accusing him of blocking traffic.

“The report that we have got from across the state is that by and large, the protest appears to have become a success ... There is no reason for taking us into custody,” Geetanandan was quoted as saying by the news agency IANS.

Teachers, who were to reach the camps for the evaluation of the Class 10 examinations paper in Kollam district, were held up after traffic was halted.

“Don’t think we can reach the camp on time. We decided to come after the state government had assured us that traffic would not be stopped and the police had taken all steps to prevent it. But now we are stranded,” a group of female teachers were quoted as saying by IANS

In many government and private offices, attendance was thin and all educational institutions had shut. However, the three major IT parks in the state — two in Kochi and one in Thiruvananthapuram — functioned normally.

Opposition Congress has backed the bandh but the ruling Left did not support it.

Senior Congress leader AK Antony has criticised the arrest of Dalit leaders and said his party will not allow the BJP government to dilute the rights of weaker sections of the society.

Dalit leaders claimed that the strike was a big hit, but tourism mandarins and traders have decried recurring bandhs, saying frequent disruptions were draining their coffers

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 10:35 IST