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PFI hartal violence : Arrests cross 1500

Thiruvananthapuram, September 26 (BPNS)

The number of cases and arrests being made by the police concerning the hartal-related violence incidents last Friday has gone up. As per a stat released by the state police, a total of 337 cases and 1588 arrests have been made so far. On Friday, the cases registered were 157, and arrests made were 170. The statewide hartal called by the Popular Front of India (PFI) – Kerala chapter on September 23 had turned out to be a violence-marred one.

According to police, the most number of hartal-related violence cases were registered at Thiruvananthapuram (50), followed by Kollam (40). In the case of arrests, most were recorded at Kottayam (300), followed by Kollam (296).

Earlier, the Opposition had alleged that the soft corner shown by the police to the violators is what made the situation worse on the hartal day. However, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan countered it by saying that the violence unleashed on the hartal day was preplanned and promised stringent actions against the perpetrators.

According to Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan, the police had failed miserably in intercepting the violence. He also added that the CM is yet to condemn the vandalism incidents carried out as part of the hartal.

Meanwhile, the CM said that the police had intervened effectively in controlling the situation. He also added that the police will soon bring those behind the vandalism before the law.

“Those who had vandalized public and private properties had worn concealed their faces. The attacks were preplanned ones. It seems the state had witnessed one of the most violent protests in recent times. Such kind of actions might be to disrupt the harmony prevailing in the state,” said the CM.

The other day, a division bench of the high court consisting of Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammad Nias CP had strongly condemned and initiated suo motu proceedings against the leaders of the PFI who called for a flash hartal.

The court while noting that the hartal call amounts to contempt of court, as it had banned the same, directed police to take stringent action against those who violated the same.

“The action of the persons in calling for the hartal without following the procedure contemplated in our earlier order, prima facie, amounts to contempt of the directions of this court,” stated the bench in its order.

It was also informed that it is suo motu initiating separate action for contempt.

The high court in 2019 had mandated that those who call for hartal should ensure a seven-day prior public notice and the absence of the same will be deemed as illegal/unconstitutional.

The division bench which considered the matter had directed the police to place a report before it giving details of such instances and the extent of damage, if any, caused to public/private property. The said details, according to the court, is necessary to take remedial action to recover such losses from the perpetrators.

At the same time, Justice Devan Ramachandran of the high court who considers matters relating to KSRTC also expressed shock over the damages suffered by KSRTC during the hartal. The state government itself apprised the Kerala High Court that 70 buses of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) got vandalized and damage to the tune of Rs 45 lakh is being assessed.