Tension grips Kerala after hoax hartal call over Kathua rape goes viral

Parts of Kerala were engulfed in violence today as a result of a hoax hartal call which was doing rounds on Social Media. Reports have claimed that a message was spreading via social media that a state-wise strike was to be observed on Monday over the Kathua rape incident. Besides informing people of the same, the message also urged people to join it.

This call was incidentally taken seriously by people and the resultant violence caused the police to sound a high alert. The bandh participants blocked public transport, forced shops to close and pelted stones at the vehicles. In the state’s Kasaragod district, a KSRTC bus driver was injured thanks to stone pelting by the protesting mob.

Some of the affected areas include Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Wayanad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kannur and Kasaragod. In the district of Kannur posters carrying inflammatory posters messages were recovered which were then removed by the police.

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The police in response detained hundreds of protesters and resorted to lathicharge in Kannur to disburse protesters trying to forcibly enter the town police station. This attack resulted in injuries to a DSP. As per local reports, the police also resorted to lathicharge in Tirur and Malappuram where gangs forcibly tried to impose the hartal. Reports also claimed that the police had traced the social media posts which supposedly spread the news.

As per the police, the hartal wasn’t backed by any political party or group. They clam the hoax hartal call went viral on social media as users shared without verifying its authenticity.

The lack of political backing was affirmed by the Indian Union Muslim League, which issued a statement claiming that it had nothing to do with the strike.

All in all, this was the third strike in the state this April, with labour unions and Dalit groups calling for mass strike on 2 April and 9 April respectively.

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