In a major embarrassment to the Congress, four of its party workers were arrested on Friday for allegedly damaging a Mahatma Gandhi portrait kept at party MP Rahul Gandhi’s office in Kerala’s Wayanad on June 24. The arrested Congress workers have been identified as V Noushad, KA Mujeeb, SR Rahul and KR Ratheesh Kumar, The Indian Express reported.
Two people –Kumar and Rahul — are Rahul Gandhi’s office staff members.
Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait was found pulled down from the office wall after a violent protest allegedly by activists of the Students Federation of India (SFI) nearly two months ago. Congress had alleged that the photo of Gandhi was damaged during vandalism by SFI activists on June 24.
Speaking to the media, Ratheesh said that it was a bogus case that is registered to “taint Congress workers”, Manorama reported.
Congress leader and Kalpetta MLA T Siddique alleged that the arrest was done in the complete knowledge of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and he had taken the step to “appease BJP”. KPCC president K Sudharan called the arrest “politically motivated”.
“The CM should clarify on what evidence Congress workers were arrested. Even before the police investigation began, the CM had announced that the accused were from the Congress party,” Sudhakaran said in a statement. However, CPM district secretary P Gagarin said that the arrests were made on the basis of evidence.
SFI workers had taken out a march to Rahul Gandhi’s office alleging that steps were not taken to address concerns of citizens over the Supreme Court’s decision to declare a kilometre around forests as Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ). However, it ended in violence in the Wayanad office of Rahul Gandhi.
On July 2, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had told the Assembly that at around 3:54 pm, police had removed all SFI men who had entered the MP’s office, and when a police photographer had clicked photograph of the room, the Gandhi photo was intact in the wall, and Congress workers were present in the room. However, later in the evening, when the photographer had taken pictures again, the portrait was found in a damaged condition lying on the floor, the CM said, citing the statement given by the photographer to the police.