Thiruvananthapuram: Normal life in Kerala was derailed on Monday as the state shut down, heeding the ruling Left Democratic Front’s call to protest the demonetisation move of the federal Bharatiya Janata Party government.
What was different, however, from normal shutdowns in the state was that banks were allowed to function.
Both the LDF and the Opposition United Democratic Front in the state have been opposed to the demonetisation and the federal government’s decision to impose a number of curbs on the cooperative institutions.
The UDF held its own protest march to the Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the state governor. Police arrested and removed senior leaders from the UDF coalition parties, including Ramesh Chennithala, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, V.D. Satheesan, M.K. Muneer and Anoop Jacob.
The protest on Monday put those who were using public transport, including trains and buses, to acute inconvenience. Several people were stranded at railway stations on arriving from outside the state after overnight journeys.
The state road transport services also ground to a halt after running a few services in the morning. The south and central regions of the state were most affected by the strike.
In Wayanad and Idukki districts the strike also affected domestic and foreign tourists. Bus services and private transport vehicles being used for the Sabarimala temple pilgrimage were, however, allowed to ply.
The tourism sector in Kerala, which had taken a hit following the closure of liquor bars during the UDF rule, is reportedly facing an equally severe setback owing to the cash crunch caused by the demonetisation drive.
Local media reported that a trader in Changanacherry in Kottayam district committed suicide because he could not repay a loan owing to the restrictions on withdrawing money from bank accounts following the demonetisation exercise.
ATMs in the state were mostly empty on Monday because the state-wide protest prevented the refilling of the machines.