Several hurt as masked miscreants attack shops and vehicles; many detained
Cops take stock of the damages done to a Kerala state bus after stone pelting, in Trivandrum, on Friday
Masked men and miscreants went on a rampage in different parts of Kerala on Friday during the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Popular Front of India (PFI), damaging buses and ambulance, injuring policemen and commoners and vandalising shops and threatening the public.
The PFI called the hartal to protest the raids in the offices and residences of its leaders and their subsequent arrests on Thursday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.
Court orders action
The Kerala High Court took cognisance of the “illegal” hartal and initiated a case saying the flash protest was prima facie a contempt of court as it violated a 2019 HC order on such agitations.
PFI activists march during the hartal. Pics/PTI
The court also directed the state administration to take stern action against those who violate the court order banning hartals.
Cutting across cities towns, the hartal supporters took out protest marches, burnt tyres on roads, blocked vehicles and forcefully downed the shutters of shops in various places.
Face-covering gangs unleashed violence and attacked shops in Kozhikode, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts.
Kerala State Road Transport buses, freight lorries and airport vehicles were widely attacked and pelted with stones across the state. An ambulance was not spared from stone-pelting in Thrissur district, causing concern.
At least 50 KSRTC buses were damaged with their windscreens smashed and seats damaged. Over 10 of its employees suffered injuries in the stone pelting and related incidents, official sources said.
A 15-year-old girl and an auto-rickshaw driver suffered minor injuries in the stone pelting allegedly by PFI activists in Kozhikode and Kannur, respectively.
A lorry driver, who was on his way to Erode in Tamil Nadu, suffered severe injuries on his nose and eyes after the hartal supporters hurled stones and broke the glass of his vehicle in Kozhikode.
In Kannur, a group of PFI activists were beaten up by local people when they tried to forcefully down the shutters of shops. Hundreds of PFI activists were reportedly detained in local police stations as a precautionary measure, sources said.
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