SFI workers vandalise Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad office

Published on Jun 25, 2022 12:48 AM IST

Workers of Student Federation of India (SFI), student wing of ruling CPI(M), vandalised an office of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleging the local MP’s inaction on the recent 1-km buffer zone notification by the Supreme Court around forest areas.

Many see the latest attack as a retaliatory action against the recent in-flight protest against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan by three Youth Congress activists. (HT)
Many see the latest attack as a retaliatory action against the recent in-flight protest against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan by three Youth Congress activists. (HT)
By, Thiruvananthapuram

Tension gripped northern Kerala’s Wayanad district on Friday after workers of Student Federation of India (SFI), student wing of ruling CPI(M), vandalised an office of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleging the local MP’s inaction on the recent 1-km buffer zone notification by the Supreme Court around forest areas.

Many see the latest attack as a retaliatory action against the recent in-flight protest against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan by three Youth Congress activists. But the ruling CPI(M) disowned the Friday’s violent incident gauging national repercussions.

District headquarters Kalpetta turned a battled ground in no time after angry Congress workers clashed with police and left activists. Many policemen, Congress and SFI activists were injured in the violence. Medical condition of two persons is reported to be critical.

Police said the attack on the MP’s office was unexpected and a handful of policemen were present when SFI activists took out a procession. Protestors barged into the three-storey office suddenly and vandalised it after attacking office staff, they said.

Office secretary Augustine Pulpally was injured seriously in the attack. Activists were seen raising slogans that attack was a retaliation to in-flight protest against the CM two weeks back. Many women activists were also present in the attack.

Though the Congress alleged the role of the ruling party in the attack, Vijayan later condemned it and promised strict action against perpetrators. “Strongly condemn the attack on @RG’s Wayanad office. In our country everyone has the right to air their opinion and protest democratically. However, that should not result in excess. It is a wrong tendency. Strict action will be taken against the culprits,” tweeted the CM.

Later, the government suspends the DySP of Kalpetta for alleged dereliction.

LDF convener EP Jayarajan said the CPI(M) never believed in violent protests and said the party will look into the “unfortunate incident.” He said the SFI has no business to carry out a protest over the buffer zone notification.

Gandhi also tweeted and posted two letters written by him to the prime minister and the CM, indicating that he acted swiftly on the issue.

“It seems it is a well-planned and executed attack. The CPI(M) is trying to please Narendra Modi. All democratic forces should condemn the dastardly attack. The CM owes a personal explanation,” AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said in the state capital. State Congress chief K Sudhakaran and opposition leader VD Satheesan also condemned the attack on the MP’s office.

Many areas of Idukki and Wayanad districts were witnessing protests over the recent Supreme Court order mandating one-km eco-sensitive area around all wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and protected areas. Both districts witnessed two shutdowns in the past few weeks.

According to Kerala Independent Farmers’ Association, 2.5 lakh acres will turn buffer zone and 30,000 families will be displaced if the notification was implemented.

Protests broke out in many parts of the state after the attack on Rahul Gandhi’s office. In the state capital police blocked a rally of the Congress to the CPI(M) state headquarters AKG Centre. They blocked many roads seeking action against attackers. PCC president K Sudhakaran said the incident took place before the police and sought action against senior officers, who he said, “colluded with protestors.”

Later the CPI(M) secretariat issued a statement saying the protest was not in the itinerary and the party will look into the incident and take action against responsible persons. Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury also condemned the attack.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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