PFI gets a ₹5 crore bill in Kerala for illegal hartal against crackdown by NIA – Hindustan Times

Published on Sep 27, 2022 08:09 PM IST

The hartal call In Kerala for September 23 was made without advance notice and was in violation of the Kerala high court’s orders that barred flash shutdowns, KSRTC said in its petition in the high court

A multi-agency operation spearheaded by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was carried out at PFI offices in 11 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. (PTI/Representative Image)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which bore the brunt of the violence during the bandh called by the Popular Front of India (PFI) last Friday, moved the Kerala high court on Tuesday to seek orders to the outfit to pay it 5.06 crore for damages to its assets and losses incurred by the corporation due to the illegal shutdown.

The state-run corporation told the high court that PFI, which is already being investigated by central and state agencies in different parts of the country, called a hartal for September 24 in Kerala in protest against raids at its offices by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The hartal call was made without advance notice and was a violation of the high court’s orders that barred flash shutdowns and required organisations to give seven days prior notice, the petition filed by KSRTC lawyer T Deepu said.

“We will not leave those who damaged our buses. We will extract compensation from them,” transport minister Antony Raju later said.

The petition said it could not abruptly stop its operations as a large number of people were dependent on its services. On September 23, the corporation operated 2,439 buses, 62% of its strength, and 9,770 employees reported for duty.

The hartal, unfortunately, turned violent resulting in smashing of windscreens and damage to seats of 58 buses, injuries to 10 employees and one passenger, the petition said, according to news agency PTI.

The corporation said the repair of its buses, the loss due to their inoperability during repairs and the reduction in service on September 23 due to the hartal has caused it an overall pecuniary loss of 5,06,21,382, KSRTC said in its petition that asked the court to order PFI to make good the losses suffered due to the hartal.

“It is submitted that the massive loss incurred by the KSRTC is liable to be recovered from the perpetrators as the same was a result of their highly illegal and terrorizing act against the hapless general public,” the petition said, according to PTI.

“The KSRTC is entitled to get its loss from those who called for the hartal and they cannot wash their hands from the responsibility of payment of damages to KSRTC,” it added.

The state police have already arrested more than 1,800 people in connection with the violence including the two who rammed their motorcycle into two policemen, injuring them seriously. The largest number of arrests have been made from Kottayam (387), followed by Thiruvananthapuram (204), Kollam (192) and Malappuram (165).

The petition coincided with continuing raids against PFI activists in seven states; Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra, Assam and Madhya Pradesh. A PTI report said more than 170 people linked with PFI were arrested or detained by state police forces on Tuesday.

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