Over dozen arrested as opposition tries to enforce Kerala shutdown

May 7th, 2009 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, May 7 (IANS) Over a dozen members of the state’s opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) led by the Congress were arrested Thursday as the statewide shutdown to demand the prosecution of state CPI-M general secretary Pinarayi Vijayan turned violent.
The opposition had called the shutdown to protest the state government’s decision against prosecution of Vijayan. The Central Bureau of Investigation had sought permission to prosecute the leader of Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in a corruption case.

A police officer said though vehicles were allowed to ply on the roads early Thursday morning, the UDF activists later stoned several public transport buses and waylaid people travelling in private vehicles.

Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had Wednesday warned of stern action against those who turned violent.

The UDF activists stepped up their protest after a Congress students’ union activist was arrested from the party office at Kochi. All the educational institutions in Kerala were closed and attendance at the state secretariat was also very low. All major markets were also shut.

However, the protesters allowed the smooth functioning of IT companies, based in Technopark campus here and at the Infopark in Kochi where more than 30,000 people work, the police officer said.

Vijayan has been accused of wrongly awarding contracts to Canadian company SNC Lavalin for renovation of two hydro-power projects 12 years ago when he was the state’s power minister.

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