Rahul Gandhi's office in Wayanad attacked, Kerala CM assures stern action

Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi.

Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi. | Photo Credit: S. Ramesh Kurup

A set of alleged Students Federation of India (SFI) activists vandalised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi MP's office at Kalpettah in Wayanad on Friday afternoon.

According to police, the SFI had taken out a march in Kalpettah town to protest the local MP's alleged apathy towards the plight of Wayanad residents threatened by the Supreme Court's (SC) direction to impose a buffer zone within a one km radius of ecologically sensitive national parks and bird and wildlife sanctuaries. The march turned violent in front of Mr. Gandhi's office.

The likely imposition of the buffer zone had precipitated a palpable sense of uneasiness in Wayanad, given that forests accounted for 74.19 per cent of its geographical area. Moreover, residents, a large section of the settler farmers, feared the proposed buffer zone would stymie development and upend their livelihood. Idukki, which has a 72.33 per cent forest cover, followed by Wayanad, had, of late, emerged as the hotspots of angry resistance against the SC's order.

KPCC releases a video of the "attack"

The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) released videos that ostensibly showed "SFI activists" clambering to the office's second floor, attacking the MP's staff and vandalising property.

The attack prompted Congress and Youth Congress protests across Kerala. Congress workers marched to the AKG Centre in protest against the violence.

CM Pinarayi Vijayan condemns attack

T. Siddique, MLA from Kalpettah, led a sit-in protest in front of the office of the District Police Chief, Wayanad, demanding the immediate arrest of SFI activists. He accused the district police of abetting the attackers.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has condemned the attack. He promised decisive action against the perpetrators. Mr. Vijayan portrayed the attack as a trespass on the freedom of expression and speech. "Political expression should not degenerate into violence", he said.

Strongly condemning the attack allegedly carried out by SFI activists, Mr. Vijayan said everyone has the right to protest in a democratic manner but such demonstrations taking a violent turn was a wrong tendency.

"Strongly condemn the attack against Congress MP Rahul Gandhi's office at Wayanad. Everyone has the freedom of speech and right to protest in a democratic manner. But it's a wrong tendency that such protests turn violent. The government will taken stern action against the culprits," Mr. Vijayan said.

AICC protest

AICC general secretary (Organisation), K.C. Venugopal, said the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had paid its customary political tribute to the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) at the centre by SFI activists into Mr. Gandhi's office.

Mr. Venugopal said the attack was a tactical gambit to divert attention from the LDF government's failure to pass legislation to circumvent the SC order. Moreover, the LDF seemed patently reluctant to appeal against the impending imposition of the buffer zone.

Leader of Opposition V. D. Satheeshan said Mr. Vijayan had ordered the attack on Mr. Gandhi's office to appease his enablers in the BJP national leadership. Mr. Vijayan erroneously calculated that the violence would give him a perfect foil to divert public attention from the gold smuggling scandal that dogged him and his family. "SFI activists should march to the CM's office for not doing enough to circumvent the SC order", he said.

Vijayan’s words of contrition rang hollow, says KPCC president

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran said Mr. Vijayan's words of contrition rang hollow. The CPI(M) should stop testing the limits of the patience of Congress workers. The police should immediately arrest the perpetrators and punish the officers who enabled the attack.

Left Democratic Front (LDF) convenor E. P. Jayarajan condemned the attack. The CPI(M) district secretary, Wayanad P. Gagarin, said the party would investigate the incident.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2022 10:13:35 pm |