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Monday, December 5, 2022

Kerala counts losses due to PFI hartal

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) filed a petition with the Kerala High Court asking for a ruling ordering the Popular Front of India (PFI) to pay Rs. 5.06 Crores as compensation for damages suffered during the violent hartal (shutdown). PFI called for the hartal in the state after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) detained its leaders. Advocate Deepu Thankan requested the court to direct the PFI to reimburse KSRTC for their losses. He pointed out that based on the complaints from the concerned KSRTC officers, the police have filed over 50 FIRs against PFI terrorists.

These cases are the ones involving the KSRTC only. Other crimes and losses are yet to be determined. Having instigated violence, two key PFI leaders, PFI’s Kerala Secretary Abdul Sattar and General Secretary CA Raoof (Rauf), went absconding. NIA had issued a Look Out Circular against both Sattar and Raoof. Sattar was finally arrested on September 28.

According to the petition, the PFI abruptly ordered a state-wide unauthorized hartal on September 23. KSRTC operated on that day because public utilities could not suddenly cease operations. Kerala police had also promised that law and order would be maintained. Not only did the police fail miserably, but they also allegedly remained mute spectators when the terrorists unleashed violence. It is alleged that political interference silenced them. It could also be why the NIA preferred to keep them in the dark during the entire operation against the PFI. A referendum on Kerala police now might not show a rosy picture.

Private buses preferred to remain off the roads since they knew how PFI terrorists operate. Helmeted operatives riding motorcycle pillions went on the rampage and threw country bombs and stones at vehicles and establishments on that fateful day.

On the 22nd, NIA  detained PFI leaders for engaging in anti-national activity, which produced the hartal. For their protection, unfortunate KSRTC drivers were seen driving buses with their helmets and window shutters half closed. That did not prevent PFI goons from attacking the windshields. Ten workers and one passenger were hurt as the hartal descended into violence when demonstrators threw stones at 71 KSRTC buses, shattering windscreens and ruining seats. 

There was simply no justification for the protestors to damage the buses operated by the KSRTC, a state-run PSU, given that the hartal was in response to the central government action. Incidentally, PFI workers were earlier seen protesting after the state government informed the Kerala HC that it was not liable to pay the salaries of KSRTC employees.

Protestors have attacked KSRTC on previous occasions, and the corporation used to pay for repairs. However, due to the financial constraints faced by the corporation, it is not in a position to do the same this time. Front windshields cost Rs.12,000 per piece, and vendors are distrustful of supplying KSRTC on credit. Even with the government’s support, the KSRTC is struggling to stay afloat, and now a substantial amount is required to repair the damaged buses. 

KSRTC also suffered a loss of revenue due to reduced trips and schedules on the hartal day. Lawyers provided a detailed list of losses incurred by the corporation along with the petition. They added that the actions of PFI perpetrators were highly illegal and terrorizing against the hapless general public and that they could not wash their hands from the responsibility of payment of damages to the KSRTC. Those losses will mount in the coming days.

Earlier, the Kerala HC had to step in and firmly condemn and initiate suo moto proceedings against PFI leaders for the illegal call of flash hartal in the state. When the court began its sittings, there were numerous reports of the PFI activists damaging public properties and threatening people who tried to venture out. There were reports of stone pelting in multiple Muslim-dominated areas. By the time the HC stepped in, violence had reduced since it was a Friday, and mosques were ‘exempt’ from the hartal. 

Incidentally, the communist regime tried to pass off the incident slyly and mentioned losses of just 42 lakhs. Justice Devan Ramachandran asked whether many KSRTC schedules would not be disrupted as it would take time to repair these buses and resume service. The court also asked if the loss would not be in crores and directed that damages should be recovered from those who vandalized the buses. Following this intervention, the green communists (SDPI and CPM rule several panchayats together) came up with the revised amount. SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) is the political wing of the PFI.

PFI terrorists vandalized shops, private vehicles, and establishments in the name of hartal. Even the media were not spared. Several police officers were also assaulted. Around 1,500 PFI criminals have been arrested since then.

In the past, the PFI has paid legal fees to protect its radical followers. Lawyers like Kapil Sibal have received crores from these anti-national/anti-Hindu terrorists and still claim they live in fear of the state. With PFI accounts frozen and the top leadership behind bars, those arrested ‘protestors’ find it hard to finance their bails.

Around Friday noon, Asianet news reporters were attacked in Kozhikode. Incidentally, the same Asianet reporters had tried to whitewash PFI crimes in the morning when the news of the raids started to trickle in. Their TV anchor Abgeoth Varghese openly alleged that all NIA operations are suspicious! He added that Siddique Kappan was behind bars since he merely had posters that wanted justice for Hathras victim. Why is the same narrative still being peddled by most Malayalam media houses? If the NIA is interested, the video is still available on Asianet’s YouTube channel.

When informed that the PFI faces a ban in Bharat, CPI (M) state secretary M V Govindan said RSS should first be banned. He added that banning the PFI will not end it or its ideology. When asked about the CPM alliance with SDPI, he lied and denied such partnerships. With such local regimes and leaders, is federalism unwise for Bharat?

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