48-hr nationwide strike evokes near-total response in Kerala

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Normal life in Kerala came to a near halt on Monday owing to a 48-hour nationwide bandh called by various trade unions with hashtag “Save the People, Save the Nation”, against the Centre’s “anti-people” policies.

While markets, shops and even way side vendors were warned against venturing out and opening their shops by the organisers, those arriving at the railway stations also found it extremely tough to reach their destinations.

Commercial banks have also downed their shutters and most of the state government offices are practically closed.

State-owned KSRTC public transport utility and the private buses are also not plying.

Even a Kerala High Court order refraining the protesters from striking work at the Kochi based BPCL was ignored as the protesting trade union workers refused to let employees work. So was the situation at other industrial areas in the state.

Meanwhile, strongly opposing the bandh, a former director of law at various Universities said: “I am a Ph.d degree in Constitution. While people have the right to protest and shirk work, those who do not wish to participate also have their rights, but unfortunately that’s not possible here. This practice of lockdown has to end.” The former director had arrived at the Central Railway station here and was unable to reach his home in the capital city.

Another group of people upset with the forced shutdown at Kottayam expressed said in no other state in the country does such a thing happen.

“For two years, Covid-19 paralysed our lives and when things were gradually returning to normalcy, this strike has appeared. Sadly, a good section of the organisers of the protest get salaries even if they don’t work, but a huge majority of the victims do not earn anything. This has to end,” said the group.

But the scenario is entirely different in Pallikkara, a small suburb in Ernakulam district, as for the past five years, the 240 shops in the village have with the support of the people ignored all such lock-downs.

“When the organisers of this protest approached us to cooperate with the protest, we refused and got a High Court order also. As a result, things are normal at the village today,” said a shopkeeper.

Meanwhile, even though the tourism industry was told that they will be exempted at the famed Alappuzha house boat centre, the members of the Left trade unions was seen asking the tourists on the houseboats to cooperate with the strike.

A house boat owner said: “Even though we were assured that we will be exempted but in there is no exemption as tourists just cannot reach here as they are being stopped en route and hence this exemption is meaningless.”

Most of the shops had bumper sales with people crowding to buy essentials in view of the bandh.

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