Wednesday's shutdown has been called by various organisations, which include the Transport Workers Union - protesting the indiscriminate hike in insurance premiums and fuel price.

The strikers also include the farmers union - protesting the fall in prices of cash crops, especially rubber - and the Kerala Fisheries Coordination Committee which is protesting the Dr Meenakumari Commission report.

Kerala fishermen say the report, if implemented, would sound the deathknell of their traditional profession.

Following the call, shops and establishments in the state have downed their shutters. Few public vehicles are plying in the city areas and the villages have been cut off as no vehicles are operating in the countryside.

The shutdown has virtually paralysed life in the villages and the coastal areas.

All the university examinations scheduled for the day have been postponed, most of the private offices are also closed and attendances in government offices are well below normal.

Police have made special arrangements at major railway stations, where they are ferrying the stranded people and those going to hospitals.

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