Damage to Mahatma Gandhi Photo: 2 Staff of Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad Office Among 4 Arrested

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Four people, including two staff of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad office, were arrested on Friday for allegedly causing damage to Mahatma Gandhi’s photo nearly two months ago when an SFI protest march led to violence on the premises. On June 24, the Students Federation of India (SFI) activists took out a protest march towards the Wayanad MP’s office here on the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) issue.

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case arrested the four after summoning them for interrogation. They were later released on bail, a senior police officer said. The arrested people were charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot).

Congress leader and Kalpetta MLA T Siddique said two of the arrested persons were staff of Rahul Gandhi’s office — one Personal Assistant (PA) and a helper — while two others were party workers. Strongly protesting against the arrest, he alleged that the charges against the Congress workers were fabricated.

“The arrest was done with the complete knowledge of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He took such a step to appease the BJP ruling the Centre,” Siddique alleged. KPCC president K Sudhakaran also alleged the police action against the Congress workers was “a part of a conspiracy centered around the Chief Minister’s Office”.

“Kerala government and police are taking the approach of making the plaintiff the accused. The arrest is politically motivated. The Chief Minister should clarify what evidence that the innocent Congress workers were arrested. Even before the police investigation started, the Chief Minister had announced that the accused were Congressmen,” Sudhakaran said in a statement. CPI(M) leader and state PWD Minister P A Muhammed Riyas said the Congress should take disciplinary action against its workers who damaged Gandhi’s photo and put the blame on the SFI workers.

The Congress had alleged that the photo of Mahatma Gandhi, which was hanging on the wall of Rahul Gandhi’s office, was damaged during the vandalism of the Wayanad MP’s office at Kalpetta allegedly by SFI activists on June 24. The SFI activists had held a protest march to Gandhi’s office and had allegedly vandalised his office claiming inaction on his behalf in connection with the issue of Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ) around forests.

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