CPI-M hartal to protest Mani's arrest hits normal life

MM Mani

The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by CPI(M) in Idukki to protest arrest of party leader M M Mani for his refusal to turn up for a polygraph test in connection with a case registered in the wake of his controversial speech, hit normal life in the high range district today.

Mani was arrested and remanded to judicial custody yesterday for rejecting the police notice to undergo brain mapping in connection with a political murder case, re-opened in the wake of his speech in which he said his party had in the past eliminated some foes in Idukki.

The protest had been peaceful but crippled mobility of people as buses kept off the road and shops remained closed. The shutdown also affected works in plantations, for which the district is famous, police said.

CPI and other left parties had refused to join the hartal though they also resented the arrest of Mani, a senior most left leader of the district.

CPI(M) had accused the Congress-led LDF Government of flouting due procedures in the arrest of Mani and dubbed it a politically-motivated act to deflect public attention from "failures" of the government.

Police had registered a criminal case against Mani and two other party activists by re-opening the murder of an INTUC activist in Idukki district 30 years ago in the light of his speech.

The special investigation team probing the case against Mani had last week served a notice to him, seeking to know whether he was willing to appear for the polygraph test by yesterday.

Mani declined to comply, arguing that he was a chronic asthma patient and that the test was not a legally maintainable procedure in criminal investigations.

While addressing a public meeting at Manakkad near Thodupuzha in the district a few months ago, Mani said his party in the 1980s drew up a list of political rivals to be eliminated and executed that. His speech had been deplored by various political parties and forced CPI(M) to remove him from the powerful post of district secretary and suspend him from the state committee.

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