Peerumade MLA and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader E.S. Bijimol who had been on a hunger strike here since Sunday evening demanding immediate decommissioning of the Mullaperiyar dam was arrested on Friday morning after her health deteriorated. Mullaperiyar Agitation Council chairman C.P. Roy, who had been on fast along with her, was arrested late Thursday night. Both of them have been admitted to the St John's mission hospital at Kattappana.

Vaikom MLA K. Ajith, also of the CPI, took her place and former Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran inaugurated his hunger strike agitation.

A large number of people, assembled at the fast venue, protested against the arrest and the police had a tough time controlling the situation. Council central committee member Ambayyan and ward member Shaji P. Joseph are continuing their fast, as also Idukki MLA Roshy Augustine, who began his hunger strike on Tuesday.

Leaders who spoke on the occasion said the hunger strike would continue till a final solution to the issue was found.

The council flayed the ‘delaying tactics' of the Union government and the ‘lack of sincerity' on the part of the State government in meeting their demand.

The council said the State administration had ‘failed' to address the issue even as the hunger strike entered the sixth day on Friday. It took a critical view of the statement made by Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph that the government had shown affinity for the people in the area by reducing the water level of the Idukki reservoir.

In a press release, office-bearers of the council wondered how the measure could save the lives of people living between the two reservoirs. Whether he has no concern for the people living in towns such as Vallakadavu, Vandiperiyar, Chappathu, and Upputhara should be clarified, the council said.

It said that no force could stop the agitation till a new dam was built and the massive support to the agitation, cutting across party lines, caste, or creed, affirmed the stand of the council.