//System to help people convey views on hartals mooted

System to help people convey views on hartals mooted

Says 80 per cent of the respondents oppose such protests

KOCHI: A study on bandhs and hartals in Ernakulam district has mooted setting up of a communication link for conveying response of people to such protests.

The study, conducted by the Research Institute of the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, was commissioned by a group of entrepreneurs to analyse the situation arising out of bandhs and hartals.

Among the suggestions made is establishing a coordination centre where opinions could be registered over phone or an interactive voice recording system. Such a system will enable the "silent majority" to express their opinion on underlying issues, while maintaining confidentiality, the study said.

Instant results obtained from such a system would equip the Government with inputs for taking appropriate decisions, it added.

The study was conducted among 118 respondents in Ernakulam district. They included political leaders, trade union representatives, professionals and daily-wage earners.

According to the study, more than 80 per cent of them oppose bandhs and hartals, as they are disruptive and coercive. As many as 95 per cent of the respondents feel that rivalry between political parties or trade unions is a key reason for bandh calls.

The study said a feeling of insecurity was generated among the public during hartals. The daily-wage earners were hit hard on these days.

Regarding destruction of public and private properties during bandhs or hartals, the study said the leaders who called the stir should be held responsible for the loss and procedures initiated against them to pay compensation to the affected people.

The Government should amend the laws to give strict punishment to those who violated law in the name of bandhs and hartals.

The study said political parties had been calling hartals and bandhs to attract the attention of the Government. These agitations were not conducted as a last resort. This practice needed a change, it said.

That apart, the political parties had a responsibility to ensure that participation of the public in bandhs was spontaneous, voluntary and not out of compulsion. The present situation was different, it added.

Political parties should make every effort to solve the issue through discussions prior to taking any decision on observing bandh or hartal.

The parties should follow a code of conduct, which should be made known to all concerned. The parties should pay compensation to victims of untoward incidents during the agitations.

The study urged social organisations and educational institutions to launch awareness campaigns on the rights of citizens.

Holding of silent rallies against bandhs and hartals was also mooted.