THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The statewide dawn-to-dusk hartal announced by the Popular Front of India (PFI) to protest the arrest of its leaders by the NIA crippled normal life as sporadic incidents of stone-pelting were reported across the state.
As many as 51 buses were targeted by stone-pelters resulting in a loss of Rs 30 lakh, said Transport Minister Antony Raju. 11 KSRTC staff were also injured in the attack. Incidents of stone-pelting at vehicles were reported from almost all the districts.
The KSRTC operated only half of its regular services in convoy mode with police protection.
The police said they have arrested close to 200 PFI cadres for resorting to violence. The arrested will be booked under Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act (PDPP).
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Window panes of KSRTC buses were damaged in stone-pelting in Balaramapuram, Attingal and Fort police station limits. Stones were thrown at a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation Bus in Parassala police station limits. The hartal supporters vandalized a shop near Pothencode for not downing the shutters.
KSRTC buses also came under attack at Pandalam in Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Kannur districts. In Kannur, a petrol bomb was reportedly hurled at a two-wheeler, while two RSS offices also came under attack.
At Pallimukku in Kollam, two police officers sustained minor injuries after their bike was rammed by another two-wheeler ridden by the hartal supporters. In Kottayam, the PFI workers had to be lathicharged at Erattupetta for blocking the roads. The PFI workers and the police fought a pitched battle here and cases have been registered against 87 hartal supporters.
The PFI had called for the hartal to protest the arrest of their senior national and state leaders by the NIA during an early-morning swoop down on Thursday.
About 25 leaders were detained and 19 were arrested in two cases. The PFI state leadership maintained that the RSS-controlled central government was using the investigation agencies to stifle opposing voices.