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Hartal affects normal life in Kerala

Hartal affects normal life in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 14 (UNI) The state-wide dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the BJP state-unit affected the normal life in Kerala on Friday.

The BJP called for the hartal in protest against the death of an Ayyappa devotee, who was admitted to the Government Medical College here following his suicide attempt early on Thursday morning.

Alleging that the Government was paying no heed to Sabarimala issue, Ayyappa devotee, Venugopal Nair (49), committed suicide by pouring petrol over himself in front of a tent, where former BJP state president CK Padmanabhan is staging indefinite hunger strike.

The body of Venugopal was brought in front of the Government Secretariat this afternoon and was paid tributes by the BJP workers and leaders. Later, the body was cremated at 'Santhi Kavadam' at Thycaud.

Barring private vehicles, auto rickshaws and two wheelers, no other vehicles were seen on the roads. Shops and other business establishments, banks and educational institutions also remained closed.

Police arranged vehicles for patients to reach Government Medical College and Regional Cancer Centre from the Central Railway Station.

In some places, BJP activists arranged vehicles to help those, who arrived at the Railway Stations to reach various examination centres to attend national level examinations, BJP State General Secretary MT Ramesh said.

Stray incidents of violence such as a government-owned KSRTC bus getting pelted with stones at Palakkad were reported.

Clashes were reported at some places, when the agitators forcibly closed shops.

BJP leader MT Ramesh said the devotee sacrificed his life in protest against the Government’s inaction to end the ongoing hunger strike by CK Padmanabhan. He poured petrol on his head and tried to set himself on fire.

A few policemen and a small group of people, who were at the dharna venue, tried to put out the fire and save him, he said.

However, Venugopal Nair, belongs to Muttada here, who suffered more than 70 per cent burns, succumbed to his injuries on Thursday evening at the Medical College Hospital.

CK Padmanabhan is staging an indefinite hunger strike demanding the withdrawal of Section 144 CrPC in Sabarimala and many police restrictions at the hillock temple.

He alleged that Venugopal Nair, an ardent devotee of Lord Ayyappa, committed suicide in protest against the Government’s move to allow the entry for women between the ages of 10 and 50.

He also alleged that no ministers from the Pinarayi Government visited Venuopal Nair, a known activist of CPI(M), in the hospital.

Meanwhile, police said Venugopal committed suicide due to family problems, according to the statement recorded by the police at the Medical College.

BJP also demanded the withdrawal of section 144 of CrPc (Code of Criminal Procedure) and many police restrictions in Sabarimala.

UNI DS RSU 2132

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