Massive Cong rally in Wayanad after SFI vandalises Rahul's office

Hundreds of Congress activists joined the rally at Kalpetta in protest against the attack on the MP office of Rahul Gandhi. Photo shared by V T Balram on Facebook.

Wayanad/Kottayam: The Congress on Saturday took out a massive rally at Kalpetta, the district headquarters of Wayanad, in protest against the attack on the MP office of Rahul Gandhi.

At the rally, the opposition party targeted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his CPM for the attack unleashed by the Students Federation of India (SFI) on Gandhi's office on Friday.

Hundreds of Congress activists joined the rally. Meanwhile, a protest march by the party supporters in Kottayam turned violent. As many as 30 SFI members were taken into custody in connection with Friday's vandalism. Six people, who were arrested earlier, have been remanded.

Led by senior leaders including AICC general secretary K C Venugopal and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V D Satheesan, the workers marched for a few kilo meters from the premises of the MP's office to Pinangod.

State Congress chief K Sudhakaran, who reached Wayanad, said the attack was scripted by the CPM and this is seen from the fact that a staff member of Health Minister Veena George was one of the protesters who led from the front.

Though minor scuffles between the workers and the police men were reported during the rally at some places, no untoward incident was reported.

However, several workers and police personnel suffered injuries in Kottayam district as a march took out by the Youth Congress there protesting over the attack against Gandhi's office turned violent. Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan MLA was among the protestors as police used tear gas and lathi-charge to disperse the mob after a DySp was injured in stone-pelting, according to TV reports.
The scuffle with the police began after irate activists, who reached the collectorate in the evening, started pelting stones and tried to break the barricade.

Police face UDF protest in Kottayam town.

The Congress leadership alleged that the Marxist party's students' cadre attacked the Wayanad MP's office as part of a Sangh Parivar agenda with the knowledge of Vijayan to please the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

'Veena's personal staff led attack'

Sharpening their attack, the opposition also charged that a personal staff of Health Minister Veena George, identified as Avishith, was among the assaulters involved in the office vandalism but the minister quickly rejected the allegation claiming that he was no longer her staffer.

He had relieved himself from duty earlier this month citing personal reasons, the minister claimed.

Though the SFI activists held a protest march to Gandhi's office and allegedly vandalised his office on Friday alleging his inaction in the issue of buffer zones around forests, the chief minister's office on Saturday clarified that the Congress MP sent a letter to Vijayan seeking his government's urgent intervention in the matter.

The CMO also said Vijayan, in his reply, had requested Gandhi to raise the issue in the upcoming Parliament session.

Police, meanwhile, said all the arrested persons were identified as local SFI activists and they were remanded for two weeks by a local court.

Hours after SFI activists indulged in the vandalism on Friday, the Left government had ordered a high-level probe by an ADGP-rank officer and suspended Kalpetta Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Satheesan visited the vandalised office on Saturday morning and reiterated that it was done with the knowledge of Vijayan.

Charging that it was the agenda of the Modi government to oust Gandhi from Wayanad, his Lok Sabha constituency, the Congress leader accused the ruling CPI(M) of taking "quotation" of the Sangh Parivar in this regard and the office attack was its result.

"The attack against Rahul Gandhi's office was held with the knowledge of the CM... it was carried out with with precise planning and also with the knowledge of top police officials... Condemning the attack by the CM was an eyewash to cheat people," Satheesan charged.

A protest march of the SFI against Gandhi's office here on Friday turned violent as a group of activists entered the Lok Sabha member's office and vandalised it, prompting the Chief Minister to strongly condemn the incident and warn of stern action against the culprits.

While the main opposition party claimed that the attack happened with the knowledge of the CPI(M), Vijayan, in a strongly worded message, said this land ensures space for freedom of expression and democratic protest but it was a wrong practice if it turns into violence.

A recent Supreme Court order mandates the maintenance of an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of one kilometre around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, which has led to widespread protest in various parts of Kerala.

The high range areas of Kerala, particularly in Idukki, Wayanad, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts, had been witnessing hartals by various political and farmers' groups against the apex court order delivered on June 3. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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