Kerala braces for Monday hartal

Left dumps Centre’s assurances on Ghat report.

Thiruvananthapuram: Despite intelligence of ‘mafia’ elements out to foment trouble and repeated central assurance that states have four months to respond to the Kasturirangan report, the LDF will go ahead with the statewide dawn-to-dusk hartal on Monday to protest what has been termed the “unilateral imposition” of the Kasturirangan report.

Offering unlikely support is the Idukki and Thamarassery dioceses of the Syro Malabar church. The Idukki diocese will organize a 48-hour traffic blockade of all roads passing through Idukki from Sunday midnight.

Thamarassery Bishop Remegiose Inchananayil, though he has called the LDF hartal “anti-people” and had received an assurance from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, read out on Monday a two-page near-incendiary pastoral letter. “This is not protest by a community or political party. This is a life and death issue of the whole society,” the Bishop said.

The letter was also suffused with veiled threats to the UDF government. “Persons belittling the protests of the people will be forced to pay a heavy price,” he said. On the other hand, the tone of Syro Malabar Major Archbishop, Cardinal George Alancherry, was less strident. In a press release he said that political parties and the government should come forward to allay the fears of the people.

The LDF hartal call seems to enjoy both open and tacit support from certain UDF constituents. After K.M. Mani’s open declaration that his party would cooperate with the LDF hartal, the Muslim League has also called for the scrapping of the Kasturirangan report.

However, there are murmurs of protest within the LDF. Small parties like the RSP have taken the stand that the LDF is missing the woods for the trees. There is a feeling, though suppressed, that the LDF was sacrificing the larger issue of conservation at the altar of minority interests.

A sense of the violence that could erupt on Monday had been felt during the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the LDF in Idukki and Wayanad on November 16. There were innumerable instances of arson and stone pelting and more than 40 were injured. An armed mob of 500 had circled the Thamarassery forest range office and had set it on fire.

According to the police, the attack was sponsored by the sand mafia in the area. The burning of important files in the forest office was a pointer that the violence had nothing to do with the Kasturirangan report.

DGP K S Balasubramanian said that nothing would be left to chance. Apart from deploying more force across the state, the police would also offer transport facility at important places, especially for those stranded at airports, railway stations, bus stands and hospitals.

Next: Cops stand by for LDF hartal

Cops stand by for LDF hartal

Thiruvananthapuram: The police has made elaborate security arrangements to tackle incidents of violence likely to crop up during the 12-hour LDF hartal on Monday, in protest against the implementation of the Kasturirangan panel report.

“Even as the LDF leaders had announced that there would not be any violence during the hartal, we are not taking any chance. Sufficient police patrolling would be ensured at all sensitive areas,” said DGP K.S.Balasubramanian. “The police intelligence wing has alerted us of the possibilities of violence”, he said.

Apart from deploying more forces across the state, the police would also offer transport facility at important places like Thiruvananthapuram, mainly for the benefit for those stranded at airports, railway stations, bus stands and hospitals. The police will also provide security to the vehicles of major Government institutions and IT companies.

KSRTC buses and other public transport services are likely to go off the roads. “We will operate services subject to the advice from the police,” said KSRTC executive director (operations), K.M. Irshad. Though the LDF had maintained that Sabarimala pilgrims would be exempted from the stir, hundreds of pilgrims who plan to travel by public transport service are likely to be stranded.

“We are deploying additional forces at all major roads leading to Pampa to ensure the safety of pilgrims,” said the DGP. Security in tension-hit Wayanad, Kozhikode and Idukki would be also beefed up. Kerala university has postponed all examinations scheluded for Monday. Fresh dates will be announced later.

( Source : dc )
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