PFI strike turned violent in parts of Kerala; Vehicles, shops damaged
Masked men and miscreants ransacked various parts of Kerala during a morning-to-evening strike called by the Popular Front of India (PFI) for alleged terror activities, damage to government buses and ambulances on Friday. Injuring policemen and common people and vandalizing shops and threatening the public.
The Kerala High Court, in itself, took cognizance of the “illegal” strike, and initiated a case holding that the flash protest was prima facie contempt of court as it violated the 2019 HC order on such agitation.
Violent incidents affected normal life in many parts of the southern state, a day after the National Investigation Agency conducted multi-agency pan-India raids against PFI, a radical Islamist organisation, arresting more than 100 people. The court, which said the strike was earlier banned, also directed the state administration to take strict action against those who violate the court order banning the strike.
Strike in the towns of the city, strike supporters took out protest marches, burnt tires on the roads, blocked vehicles and forcibly pulled down the shutters of shops at various places.
Gangs wearing face coverings resorted to violence and attacked shops in Kozhikode, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts. Kerala state road transport buses, freight and airport vehicles were extensively attacked and stone pelted across the state. Not even an ambulance was spared from stone-pelting in Thrissur district, which has become a matter of concern.
At least 50 KSRTC buses were damaged and their windscreens were broken and seats were damaged. Official sources said that more than 10 of its employees were injured in stone-pelting and related incidents. The KSRTC management put up a Facebook post against the attack on its buses, and drivers can be seen driving vehicles wearing helmets at several places to avoid stone pelting.
Apart from KSRTC employees, police personnel, some bus and lorry drivers and passengers suffered injuries in various incidents. In Erattupeta town of Kottayam district, police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse activists who tried to stop vehicles, shut down shops and threatened people traveling in private vehicles after a large number of gatherings. Had to take
A strike supporter allegedly rammed two policemen with his motorbike in Kollam’s Pallimukku when he tried to stop them from abusing commuters. Police said that though he managed to escape from the spot, raids are on to nab him.
A lottery shop kept open at Kottayam’s Sankranthi Kavala was vandalized by miscreants, while some cargo lorries, which were on their way from Mangaluru, were stopped and their keys snatched on a national highway in Kannur, leaving the area Traffic was blocked in ,
Local media reported that a petrol bomb was hurled at a vehicle carrying newspapers for distribution at Narayanapara and a country-made bomb was hurled at a local BJP office in Mattannoor by unidentified persons in Kannur district.
A 15-year-old girl and an auto-rickshaw driver suffered minor injuries in stone-pelting allegedly by PFI activists in Kozhikode and Kannur. A lorry driver on his way to Erode in Tamil Nadu suffered serious injuries to his nose and eyes in stone pelting in Kozhikode.
“They attacked us deliberately with the intention of destroying the lorry. The vehicle was parked on the side of the road when they came and attacked. I had gone to a private hospital for first aid and now I am going to a government hospital for a detailed check-up. In Kannur, a group of PFI activists were thrashed by locals when they tried to forcibly shut the shutters of shops. Angry locals reacted strongly when protesters at the Central Market in Payyanur in this politically volatile northern district asked to shut down shops, thrash them and hand over one of them to the police.
Following the PFI’s call for a strike on Thursday, the state police chief had directed to tighten security across Kerala and take strict action against those violating the law. However, there were complaints that the police did not act swiftly at many places when miscreants tried to stop vehicles and forcibly shut down shops on Friday.
DGP Anil Kant said law and order situation in the state is under control and additional forces have been deployed wherever necessary. Sources said that a large number of PFI and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers have been detained by the police for breaking the law and indulging in violence on the day of the strike.
However, the police have not yet disclosed their exact number. The PFI had said on Thursday that “a strike will be held in the state today against the RSS-controlled fascist government’s attempt to stifle dissent by using central agencies.”
On Thursday, 106 PFI office-bearers were arrested by multi-agency teams led by the NIA in simultaneous raids at 93 locations in 15 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. Officials said Kerala, where the PFI has some strong pockets, saw the maximum number of arrests at 22.
Those arrested include PFI state president CP Mohammad Bashir, national president OMA Salam, national secretary Nasruddin Elmaram, former president E Abubakar and others.
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