KOCHI: Hartal-mongers are having a bad time these days in Kerala thanks to the growing public outrage over the menace and the intervention of the High Court that has warned of strict action against the hartal addicts.
The latest hartal statistics may disappoint the strikers as the state has witnessed only five hartals since January, the least number in the recent past. And in the last three months, no hartal, including regional-level, was observed by any political party or organisation.
A regional hartal was called on March 1 in Chithara panchayat in Kollam district in protest against the murder of a CPM worker. While three hartals were observed in January, one each was held in February and March.
Compared to previous years, the sharp decline of the menace has brought much relief to industries, trade bodies, professionals, educational institutions and the general public.
As many as 73 hartals were observed during the first six months of 2017 while the number of shutdowns fell to 53 in the first half of 2018.
"Kerala has gained greatly by the curtailment of shutdowns, which adversely impacted its economic development. Bringing the number down to just five from 73 is commendable. The general sentiment against Malayalis' favourite 'festival' has snowballed over the last couple of years when the number of flash shutdowns had crossed more than 100," said Manoj Niraksharan, an activist of 'Say No to Hartal,' the voluntary organisation campaigning against the mindless torture.
Interestingly, the apex body of various trade organisations and tourism operators has declared 2019 as anti-hartal year and adopted a six-point resolution to overcome frequent shutdowns. In December last, the Kerala Tourism Task Force, an initiative of Kerala Travel Mart Society comprising 28 trade organisations, had sought a ban on hartals.
Only two hartals were observed after the High Court's strict warning that no shutdown strike should be observed without issuing an advance notice of seven days.
According to Raju P. Nair, general convener of 'Say No to Hartal,' the strong intervention of the High Court had a positive impact. "The court registered cases against the leaders who called two hartals after its warning. Hence, the trend of observing flash shutdowns has decreased. Political parties have so many other ways to protest and they have skipped hartals this year," he added....