Twenty-nine members of the Student Federation of India (SFI) have been arrested on charges of vandalisation of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s MP office in Wayanad, Kerala, on 24 June.
The state’s Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Manoj Abraham visited the office on 28 June to personally take stock of the situation.
The Kerala police arrested the SFI activists in Wayanad and are currently in judicial custody, a police officer told South First.
The issue began when the Supreme Court, on 3 June, gave a directive to create mandatory eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) of a minimum one-kilometer radius around protected forests and wildlife sanctuaries.
The SFI activists, in hundreds, took out a rally in Kalpetta, the headquarters of the Wayanad constituency, and demanded Gandhi’s intervention in the matter.
They demanded that the MP assure the people of the Wayanad constituency that they would not be forcefully displaced to create ESZs.
The arrests came after the SFI’s protest march turned violent and the agitators allegedly barged into the office and trashed it.
Accused in 14-day remand
The police initially filed two separate cases against the miscreants and sought their remand for 14 days from a Judicial Magistrate First Class court.
The suspects were booked under IPC Sections 425 (damage to private property), 452 (house-trespass after preparation to hurt), and 506(1) (criminal intimidation) in the first case.
They were also charged with unlawful assembly leading to rioting and for causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons.
You can attack his office, but you can’t shake the pillars of his thoughts.
If there’s one man that fights against the dictatorial, His name is Rahul Gandhi!
It’s high time the Kerala government take strict against hooliganism. pic.twitter.com/1WpI14TJDL
— Indian Youth Congress (@IYC) June 24, 2022
“Relevant sections have been used based on the statements of the injured Congress office staff. The Kalpetta Special Investigation Team (SIT), led by Kannur range DIG, Rahul R Nair is investigating the matter,” a Kelpetta police officer told South First.
He alleged that the suspects also damaged a police vehicle during the agitation.
The SFI is the student wing of CPI(M), the largest party in the LDF-coalition government in Kerala.
On 25 June, hours after Gandhi’s office was vandalised, the Kerala government had suspended the Kalpetta Deputy Superintendent of Police.
Congress protests in Kerala
Meanwhile, Congress activists, led by senior leaders including AICC general secretary KC Venugopal and leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan, held protests across the state against the SFI and the CPI(M).
At Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, Congress workers planned to conduct a protest rally at the CPI(M) headquarters but were blocked by the police midway.
The Congress workers, in retaliation, damaged CPI(M) campaign boards.
Kottayam District Youth Congress President Chindu joy staged a protest against the vandalization of Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad office outside the CPI(M) office, police station, and throughout the entire district. pic.twitter.com/vE2LEIdQ97
— Indian Youth Congress (@IYC) June 26, 2022
In another incident, several Congress workers and police personnel were injured in the Kottayam district after a protest march by the Youth Congress workers turned violent.
Congress condemned the attack on its workers and called it a joint act of the CPI(M) and the BJP.