Kerala bandh PFI protesters go on rampage as 19 activists arrested

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 23 : Agitated by the arrest of 19 of its activists by the NIA and ED, the Popular Front of India (PFI) called for 'Kerala bandh' on Friday and resorted to stone pelting even as the police remained a mute spectator. The maximum impact of the dawn-to-dusk bandh was seen in the Muslim stronghold areas of the state. At several places, the activists forced people to down the shutters of their shops. As many as 19 PFI activists, including the top brass of their leadership, were arrested as part of an early morning joint operation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday. Even though the Kerala Police had made elaborate arrangements and warned of strict action against those who resort to violence, the PFI activists went on a rampage and at numerous places and pelted stones. There were reports of several buses of the state owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation being attacked with stones in certain areas. Apart from the damage to property, a few of the KSRTC staff members also reportedly suffered injuries in the violent incidents. Even the private vehicles were not spared and in the state's capital at a Muslim strong hold area, the agitators waylaid and attacked a car en route to the airport to drop people at the airport to catch an international flight. About 20 policemen were reported to be present at the place but they did not respond. At Kollam, suspected PFI activists rammed their two-wheelers on two on-duty policemen injuring them. Even at the famed international tourist destination at Kovalam, near here, things were no different as most of the shops remained closed. However, at Erattupettah in Kottayam district, the police took on the PFI workers and chased them away and detained five of them. Over the years, neither the ruling CPI-M led Left nor the Congress-led opposition have taken a stand against the PFI, for obvious "electoral" reasons. When most of the universities in the state have postponed the day's examinations, the Public Service Commission has decided to hold the exam as scheduled. /IANS


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