Strike paralyses normal life in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 5 (UNI) Normal life in Kerala was paralysed today following the dawn-to-dusk Hartal, called separately by the ruling Marxist-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and BJP against the hike in fuel prices by the Centre.

Barring stray incidents of stone-pelting, the hartal was by and large peaceful. Business and commercial sectors came to a standstill in the state.

Public transport system went off the roads, leading to thin attendence in government offices. However, some private vehicles and two-wheelers plied.

Shops and business establishments, including hotels, remained closed. However, the IT sector functioned normally as the companies made arrangements to bring their staff in vehicles.

University examinations were postponed, while the Kerala State Public Service Commission decided not to delay its scheduled interviews.

Essential commodity like milk and essential services like electricity supply and hospitals were exempted from the hartal.

A report from Kollam said ten Yuva Morcha activists were taken into custody when they pelted stones at a lorry coming from neighbouring Tamil Nadu at Eroor, near Anchal.

Reports from Kochi and Kozhikode said the hartal was 'total' in the central and northern parts of the state.

While Cochin Shipyard recorded 60.6 per cent attendence, Kochi Refineries Limited (KRL) had a staggering attendance of 99.8 per cent.

Cochin Port Trust spokesperson said work in the port was not affected by the hartal call.

Meanwhile, a report from Kozhikode said offices had poor attendence. The strike was peaceful in the region, police said.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy said there was no justification for the Left agitation as the party-ruled state government had imposed an additional burden of Rs 1.20 per litre of petrol and 65 paise per litre of diesel through more tax and cess. UNI TEAM CR ROY AE RN1927

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