Political tensions rise in Kerala following "crude bomb attack" in front of CPI(M) State headquarters

Congress men squatting on the road at Palayam in the city when the police stop them from proceeding to AKG Centre in protest against the attack on Rahul Gandhi’s office on Friday

Congress men squatting on the road at Palayam in the city when the police stop them from proceeding to AKG Centre in protest against the attack on Rahul Gandhi’s office on Friday | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

Kerala witnessed a day of rising political tensions after a yet-to-be-identified person travelling on a two-wheeler detonated a throw-down type incendiary device against the boundary wall of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] State headquarters at the AKG Centre here late Thursday.

The explosion exacerbated political tensions, with the CPI(M) squarely blaming Congress for the aggression.

Political violence

The repercussions of the attack also manifested in violence against Congress offices and symbols in Alappuzha and Kottayam.

Un-identified persons vandalised Indira Gandhi's statue in Alappuzha. Unknown persons threw stones at the District Congress Committee (DCC) office in Kottayam. CPI(M) workers took to the street in protest across Kerala. Scores mobbed the AKG Centre.

Diversionary tactic

Congress has condemned the attack and denied any culpability. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran said the CPI(M) had orchestrated the attack to divert public attention from the scandals plaguing the government.

The attack occurred on the eve of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi MP visiting Wayanad.

Opposition leader V. D. Satheeshan said the government was on the backfoot. The administration had drawn public ire for abetting the widely condemned and wanton "Students Federation of India's (SFI) attack" on Mr. Gandhi's regional office in the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency. New disclosures in the UAE diplomatic baggage gold case had cast the administration in poor light.

Mr. Satheesan said the groundswell of opposition to the K-Rail (Silverline) semi-highspeed railway project had alarmed the government.

"The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government desperately seeks an escape route. The explosion in front of AKG Centre is merely a diversionary tactic to draw away public attention from the ruling front's woes", he said.

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said the CPI(M) had orchestrated the explosion to blunt the political fallout of Mr. Gandhi's high-profile visit to Wayanad in the wake of the SFI attack on the MP's regional office.

CM's inspection

The AKG Centre was the focus of attention. Mr. Vijayan inspected the explosion scene flanked by CPI(M) leaders.

Mr. Vijayan denounced the attack and urged the police to bring the perpetrators to book. He urged peace and later attended a CPI(M) State secretariat meeting.

Left Democratic Front (LDF) convenor E. P. Jayarajan alleged Congress had unleashed violence to create anarchy in the State.

He said the "firebombing" of AKG Centre was the latest in the series of Congress "trespasses" on CPI(M) workers and offices.

"Two youth congress workers had made a bid on Mr. Vijayan's life on board an aircraft. Congress workers have threatened to ambush Health Minister Veena George. They vandalised the Deshabhimani newspaper's office in Wayanad", he said.

The CPI(M) had condemned the attack on Mr. Gandhi's office. "In contrast, no Congress leader has denounced the youth congress attempt on the CM's life". The police arrested 24 SFI activists in connection with the incident.

Communist Party of India (CPI) State secretary Kanam Rajendran perceived a conspiracy to portray Kerala as a strife-torn State.

Police investigation

Meanwhile, crime scene experts gathered forensic evidence from the explosion scene. A police official said the country-made explosive appeared to contain no lethal shrapnel. The explosive charge seemed fashioned from low-grade powder used in firecrackers. He called it a crude "flash-bang" device that could stun but not injure seriously. It could cause burns.

Digital dragnet

The police also faced the challenge of identifying the firecracker "thrower". City Police Commissioner Sparjan Kumar said investigators were working on a few leads. They were analysing the grainy surveillance camera footage of the incident. The police have also cast a digital dragnet.

They have asked cell phone service providers to give information on all devices in the locality at the time of the crime.

An investigator said the whereabouts of persons present in the locality at the time could help the police identify the attacker. He said the attack appeared well-plotted.

Forward scout

The police said preliminary inference pointed to a forward scout reporting the presence of police officers in front of the AKG Centre, thereby diverting the attacker to the unguarded second gate.

The police were also probing if the incident was in any way linked to the 2017 "CPI(M) attack" on the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP's) State headquarters here. The State government had recently moved the court to drop charges against the accused in the case.

BJP State president K. Surendran said the CPI(M) had plotted the attack to draw away public attention from the scandals plaguing the government. He also termed the incident a "policy failure".

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 12:46:23 pm |