Stray violence marred the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by RSS and BJP in Kerala today to protest the murder of a Sangh activist in Kannur allegedly by CPI(M) workers even as the UDF government ordered a crime branch probe and booked eight suspects in connection with the killing.
Voicing serious concen 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 poltically 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 told reporters.
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.
BJP state president V Muraleedharan demanded action against the son of a prominent CPI(M) leader who had allegedly made a post on a social networking site hailing the murder of Manoj.
Though certain pockets of Kannur were witness to violent political clashes and murders involving workers of RSS and CPI(M)in the past, the area had been largely calm for the last couple of years.
The tension resurfaced with the rivals poaching disgruntled workers from each side, especially in hyperactive areas like Kathirur on the outskirts of Thalassery town.