Nineteen activists of the Students' Federation of India (SFI), the students wing of the ruling CPI(M), have been arrested and remanded so far in connection with the attack on Congress MP Rahul Gandhi's office here, even as opposition Congress-led UDF targeted Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the incident saying the attack was held with his knowledge.
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, the Congress alleged.
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 the 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 Wayanad 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.
"The arrest of 19 people have been recorded so far. Some more persons were taken into custody and more arrests are expected to take place today. At present, the case is investigated by the Mananthavady Deputy Superintendent of Police and it will be handed over to the ADGP-led special investigation team soon," he told PTI.
Hours after SFI activists vandalised the Wayanad office of Gandhi, the Left government on Friday night ordered a high-level probe by an ADGP-rank officer and suspended Kalpetta Deputy Superintendent of Police.
Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V D 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 over the "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 added.
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.