Hoax hartal call over Kathua incident triggers tension in Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 16 : A ‘hoax’ hartal call on social media to protest the alleged gangrape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua region triggered tension in various parts of Kerala today, prompting the police to sound a high alert.
A message had been spreading via social media platforms since yesterday that a state-wide hartal against the Kathua incident would be observed on Monday, urging people to join the protest.
Hundreds of persons were taken into custody in various places of the southern state for blocking public transport buses, forcibly downing shutters of shops and pelting stones at vehicles in the name of hartal.
In Kannur, police resorted to lathicharge to disperse protesters, who also tried to barge into the Town Police station besides trying to disrupt traffic and forcibly closing down shops.
Some police personnel, including a deputy SP, suffered injuries in the incident, police said, adding that over 40 persons were taken into custody in this regard.
The police also removed posters carrying inflammatory messages in Kannur.
A KSRTC bus driver got injured in stone pelting in northern Kasaragod district, the police said. .
Public vehicles were blocked and shops remained closed in various places in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Wayanad besides the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram.
Protest marches holding pictures of the hapless rape victim were held in various places, including the Ernakulam district.
The police, however, asserted that no political party or outfit had called for the hartal.
They said that the hoax hartal call went viral as social media users shared the message without checking its veracity.
The minor girl, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, had disappeared from her house in Kathua on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area, and medical examination pointed towards sexual assault.