BJP-called Kerala shutdown begins

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 14 (IANS) The dawn-to-dusk Kerala shutdown called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to protest the death of a Sabarimala devotee on Friday was a near success amid a few stray incidents of violence that prompted stern police warning.

The 50-year-old Lord Ayyappa devotee had set himself on fire at a BJP protest venue early on Thursday and later succumbed to his injuries at a state-run Medical College hospital, here.

Shops, establishments, markets besides all educational institutions in the state remained closed though private vehicles were seen plying.

The state-run Kerala State Road Transport Corporation was also not operating its services and at Palghat, a group of people who came on two wheelers stoned three buses that were parked at the KRCTC depot.

State Police chief Loknath Behra has issued a stern warning that any trouble makers who try to forcefully down shutters and create impediments would be arrested immediately.

The shutdown also affected the release of superstar Mohanlal’s magnum opus “Odiyan” that was slated to open at 412 theatres across the state.

At several places after the first show at 4.30 a.m., the theatres closed down with an announcement that it will reopen only at 6 p.m.

V.A. Shrikumar Menon, director of the film told the media that this shutdown has affected the opening day’s release and hoped on Saturday things would be normal.

The famed tourist destination at Alappuzha, where there are over 1,000 houseboats also did not operate.

Commercial capital Kochi also wore a deserted look, but a few auto rickshaws were seen operating and the Kochi Metro services were open.

In the state capital here, police escorts were provided to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) buses and also to the vehicles carrying IT staff to the Technopark campus.

Former state BJP chief C.K. Padmanabhan, who has been on an indefinite fast against the manner in which the Left government was handling the Sabarimala issue after the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed all women entry into the shrine, justified the shutdown.

“The protest is aimed at opening the eyes of the authorities,” said Padmanabhan .

The BJP which took out protest marches at all district headquarters as a show of strength, however exempted NEET examination centres and even provided transport facilities to the candidates.

–IANS

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