Bengaluru: Congress youth outfit, Youth Congress, has called for a hartal in Kerala after two of its activists were hacked to death on Sunday night allegedly over political rivalry. Congress workers blocked vehicles across the state and forcefully shutdown shops in resistance from traders, local reports said. Meanwhile, in a setback to Congress, Kerala High Court has taken a suo motto case of contempt of court against the organizers of the hartal. The court had last month banned flash shutdowns.
The duo, Kripesh (19) and Sharat Lal (21), were returning home when they were attacked at Periya in Kasargode district. The Congress alleged that local members close to the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM carried out the attack.
The police said the murders were part of a retaliation as Kripesh and ten others were booked for attacking a local CPM member in January, The Times of India reported.
"This is a calculated murder of two innocent youths. It is the latest example of the murderous politics of the CPM," said Ramesh Chennithala, Congress opposition leader in Kerala.
"We understand the sentiments against hartal in Kerala but in these charged times, it is difficult to take an independent stand," said Dean Kuriakose, Youth Congress Kerala President.
"The brutal murder of two members of our Youth Congress family in Kasargod, Kerala is shocking. The Congress Party stands in solidarity with the families of these two young men & I send them my deepest condolences. We will not rest till the murderers are brought to justice," tweeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Kerala has been at pains over recurring flash shutdowns, which often took a violent turn after the peaking of the Sabarimala controversy recently.
Last month, Kerala High Court effectively pronounced a ban on flash shutdowns, and made a seven day prior notice mandatory before invoking a bandh by any party.
Director General of Police Loknath Behra on Monday has issued advisory to prevent blocking of vehicles and damage to public offices in this backdrop.
The CPM in a statement to the press condemned the killing and said the government will bring to book those responsible for it. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has canceled the day's events. The state education department has postponed Class 10 model exam scheduled to be held today.