Fuel price hike: dawn to dusk hartal begins in state

Thiruvanathapuram: The dawn to dusk hartal called by UDF and LDF as part of the nationwide agitation against fuel price hike is progressing in Kerala. The hartal will be observed in state from 6 am to 6 pm.

All India Congress committee has called for nationwide shutdown from 9 am to 3 pm across the country. However, both fronts have declared that flood relief activities would not be interrupted. Tourism sector and essential services like hospitals, newspapers and milk are exempted from the hartal.

The agitation hit normal life as private buses and KSRTC buses are keeping off the road. It is reported that buses will resume service in the state after 6 in the evening. Police have arranged transport facility from railway stations to help the passengers. A number of opposition parties will unitedly protest the rise in fuel prices in the country on Monday and participate in the ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by the Congress.

Top opposition party leaders like Sharad Pawar, M K Stalin and left leaders have openly extended their support for the call for shut down, while the Trinamool Congress has decided to stay away from the protest. While public vehicles remained off the roads in the state, private vehicles were seen plying in many places, while shops, markets and establishments remained shut.

“This is a protest against the wrong policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has also led to the rupee reaching record lows. Under Modi, the country has reached a low,” Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said while inaugurating his party’s protest in Kochi.

In Kollam, agitated Congress workers protested outside the Head Post office, demanding that it should be closed. In the state capital, the IT campus at Technopark is functioning and the ISRO units are also working as normal. There was a complete shutdown in Kasargode, the town that shares a border with Karnataka, as interstate buses kept off the roads.

While the Congress workers are out on the streets, the ruling Left supporters appear to maintain a low profile and have stressed that relief operations in flood-affected areas will go on unaffected.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the Narendra Modi government has “looted” Rs 11 lakh crore from the people of the country in the last 52 months and was running a “profiteering company” rather than a government.

The way gas, diesel and petrol prices are increasing every day, it has caused great distress to farmers, he said.

(With inputs from agencies)