Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram witnessed a total shutdown as buses and other vehicles stayed off roads. [Representational Image]Twitter/Feby Mathew

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) called for a 12-hour shutdown in Kerala on Thursday to protest against the killing of their party worker in the Pinarayi town of Kannur district on Wednesday. The party also called for a CBI probe into the murder which was allegedly carried out by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Hospitals, medical stores, distribution of milk and newspapers have been exempted from the shutdown while all university and civil service examinations have been postponed. People who have to go to airports and attend funerals and weddings have also been exempted from the strike. Hajj and Sabarimala pilgrims have been exempted too.

Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram witnessed a total shutdown as buses and other vehicles stayed off roads. The state's KSRTC buses also stayed off roads. A shop was also set on fire in Kozhikode, the Indian Express reported.

The BJP accused the CPI(M) government of encouraging "political terrorism" in Kerala after Ramith, a 26-year-old driver and BJP activist, was hacked to death in front of his mother and sister in Kannur two days after the killing of a CPI(M) worker in the same district. 

According to the police, armed men were waiting for Ramith to step out of his house after which they hacked him to death with swords. His father had also been allegedly killed by CPI(M) workers in May 2002.

The Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi, Calicut, Kannur universities as well as the Cochin University of Science and Technology and Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies have postponed all examinations. New dates of the exams will be released later, Manorama Online reported.

The Kerala Health University's ayurveda theory examination has been postponed to Saturday while the other theory exams have been postponed to Friday. The State Cooperative Union's junior diploma in cooperation exam has also been adjourned.

The Kerala Agricultural University postponed admissions to all their degree courses to Friday.

"Murder of Ramith, a BJP karyakarta, in Pinarayi village, Kannaur district, hometown of Kerala CM is disturbing. My condolence to the family. Chavassery Uttaman, Ramith's father was similarly killed in 2002, his mother suffered serious injures when his house was attacked recently. Attacks on BJP karyakartas in CM Pinarayi Vijayan's home constituency is a matter of grave concern and smacks of political vendetta," BJP President Amit Shah said on Twitter.

However, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury denied all allegations and said: "This atmosphere of violence is being created by the BJP and RSS in Kannur district. The violence has been started by the RSS and to blame the CPI(M) is total fabrication."