Opposition-led shutdown affects life in Kerala

February 19th, 2008 - 3:24 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of ISRO

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 19 (IANS) Most shops and businesses in Kerala remained closed and public transport vehicles remained off roads Tuesday as the state observed a 12-hour dawn to dusk shutdown called by the Congress-led opposition. The opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) called for the shutdown on the eve of the state assembly’s budget session to protest price rise amongst other demands.

All educational institutions were closed and thin attendance was reported in government and private offices due to the lack of public transport. Minor skirmishes were said to have occurred in a few places.

In rural parts of Thiruvananthapuram district near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, supporters of the shutdown stoned buses that were plying.

However, the Technopark here, which houses major IT firm, was functioning and “employees came to work with police providing security”, a Technopark official told IANS.

Staff buses of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) also operated with armed security officials accompanying them.

The UDF has called the shutdown, saying its repeated requests to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan for an all-party meeting to discuss “burning issues concerning people” had been ignored by the Left government.

The strike, the opposition said, was to highlight problems caused by rising prices of essential commodities, and demands like continuing the health insurance scheme for the poor and early implementation of the central government’s old age pension scheme.

UDF leaders have been justifying the shutdown, saying that when they were in power during 2001-06, Left parties had called 22 strikes for various reasons.

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