The bandh called by the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Kerala against the pre-dawn raids and arrest of its key leaders by central agencies turned violent on Friday. Several incidents of vandalism and violence have been reported across the state and stones were pelted in various districts such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Alappuzha.
Kerala | Visuals from Kottayam after Popular Front of India (PFI) called for a one-day state-wide strike today over NIA raids and the arrest of some of its leaders. pic.twitter.com/QVwAj4KskP— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2022
After the protests turned violent, the Kerala High Court initiated a suo motu cognisance against the leaders of PFI, calling flash hartal in the state which was earlier banned by the court. The court observed immediate action should be taken against ongoing attacks. Flash hartals means, harthals that are called without giving a prior notice. So Kerala HC has said harthals should be called after giving at least seven days' prior notice.
One auto-rickshaw and a car were damaged allegedly by people supporting the state-wise bandh called today by the Popular Front of India over NIA raids, reported news agency ANI.
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala | One auto-rickshaw and a car were damaged allegedly by people supporting the state-wise bandh called today by the Popular Front of India over NIA raids pic.twitter.com/k305OP83jW— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2022
A Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus (KSRTC) bus was vandalised allegedly by people supporting the one-day bandh called by PFI today, in Companypadi near Aluva.
Kochi, Kerala | A KSRTC bus was vandalised allegedly by people supporting the one-day bandh called by PFI today, in Companypadi near Aluva pic.twitter.com/XZqhiAxTDL— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2022
Local media reported that a petrol bomb was hurled at a vehicle which was carrying newspapers for distribution at Narayanpara in Kannur in the morning.
In Alappuzha, KSRTC buses, a tanker lorry and some other vehicles got damaged in the stone pelting allegedly by those supporting the hartal call.
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, reported PTI.
TWO POLICE OFFICERS INJURED
Two civil police officers, identified as Antony and Nikhil, were injured in Kollam after they were attacked by PFI supporters.
Two people on a bike were abusing people and when the police men tried to stop them, they pushed the cops. Two of the policemen have been admitted to hospital now and the bike number has been identified Police said they will take the accused into custody soon.
SECURITY BEEFED UP
Meanwhile, Kerala police beefed up security in the state and issued directions to the district police chiefs to ensure law and order after the PFI called for a day-long state-wide hartal.
A statement issued by the police said stern action will be taken against those who violate the law. "All the policemen in the state will be deployed for the maintenance of law and order," the statement said.
The PFI on Thursday had said a hartal will be observed in the state today "against the RSS-controlled fascist government's attempt to silence dissenting voices using the central agencies". The hartal would be held from 6 AM to 6 PM, A Abdul Sathar, state general secretary, PFI, had said in the statement.
NIA RAIDS ON PFI
On Thursday, PFI workers had taken out marches to the places where raids were carried out and raised slogans against the Centre and its investigating agencies. However, central forces were already deployed in all such places as part of strengthening the security.
Multi-agency teams spearheaded by the NIA had arrested 106 functionaries of the PFI on Thursday in near simultaneous raids at 93 locations in 15 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.
Kerala, where PFI has some strong pockets, accounted for the maximum number of 22 arrests, officials said.
PFI state president C P Mohammed Basheer, national chairman O M A Salam, national secretary Nasaruddin Elamaram, former chairman E Abubacker and others were among those arrested.
(With inputs from Shibimol KG)