Stray violence marred the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party in Kerala on Tuesday to protest the murder of a Sangh activist in Kannur allegedly by CPI-Marxist workers even as the United Democratic Front government ordered a crime branch probe and booked eight suspects in connection with the killing.
Voicing serious concern over the murder, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh telephoned Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and sought details of the circumstances of the killing and the steps taken to track down the culprits.
Incidents of hurling of country-made bombs were reported from Kannur and pelting of stones from many parts of the state during the hartal, which hit normal life across the state. But no one was seriously injured in any of these incidents, police said.
Considering the long history of RSS-CPI-M violence in the politically volatile area, security has been stepped up in Kannur district.
State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said a special team headed by a superintendent of police had been constituted to probe the killing.
He said cases have been registered against eight persons who are absconding. For the time being, the prime concern was to ensure that the area remained calm, he said. “So far, no serious incidents of violence have been reported from the areas. We will not allow Kannur to turn again into a political killing field,” Chennithala said.
Manoj (42), a district office-bearer of RSS, was hacked to death by a gang that attacked him at Kathirur in Kannur district in north Kerala on Monday. Two others were injured, one of them seriously, in the attack.
Country-made bombs were hurled at the car in which Manoj and his companions were travelling and the attackers then hacked him to death.
RSS-BJP leaders alleged that the CPI-M was behind the killing and their state functionaries gathered in Kannur to pay homage to their slain colleague. The killing happened on a day when BJP president Amit Shah was in Thiruvanathpuram.