Whenever the oil companies in India increased petrol prices, the opposition communist parties wasted no time to call for an Hartal and not for once the increased prices dropped because of the Kerala Hartal. Yet the ritual continues till today. As a result of it, no taxis or auto rickshaws would run on the roads and for the general public brisk walking is the only way to move from one place to the other. Attendance in office would be minimal. The shoppers would down their shutters. Generally the public life would turn in to a sleep mode, alternatively the house hold life would become lively with all members getting together for a full day.
The Hartals come to Kerala regularly on one reason or other and people have got accustomed to it to the extent of making inquiries with press or elsewhere whether there is an Haral declared, when some possible issue are in the air. If the answer turns negative a sizable chunk of office goers and students might get disappointed.
Hartal is a Gujarati word meaning to strike work or any business voluntarily. It came in to common usage during the independent movement in India when Mahatma Gandhi who hails from Gujarat and spearheaded the movement, used Hartal as a non-violent method to protest against British-India. Hartal is originally done voluntarily out of sorrow or shock on account of death of a popular person or on account of anything tragic to the country.
Now the voluntary aspect has given way to force by the political parties and they decide what is sorry for the people.
In addition to State Hartals there are regional Hartals too comprising only a Panchayat or a District and the effect of it is same to the general public within that District or Panchayat, no shops, no vehicles.
Many people condemn the trend of calling for a Hartal at the drop of a hat. There is even a court order banning Bandh. The Bandh is only another name for Hartal and as a result of court order political parties do not use the word Bandh and use the word 'Hartal' to avoid court action.
The sad part of a Hartal is that it affects only the common man and the person against whom it is pointed might not even know about it. For example today’s Hartal is against oil companies or the ruling coalition parties at the Centre. While the common people get stranded in bus stops and railway stations the ruling elite and Oil Company Heads stay oblivious of it.
The violence and death are not uncommon during Hartal. There are brain-washed loyal workers for all political parties and they indulge in violence against those who question their actions like forcibly shutting shops or stopping vehicles.
The Hartal is a communist strategy and two communist dominant states in India, Bengal and kerala, undergo them frequently. However since Mamata Banerjee took over in Bengal the Hartals are not practiced there as a weapon against the Central Government. When off from power, the ruling congress too calls for Hartals if it suits them politically.
Images from Google
Images from Google