Fire in Kerala Secretariat: Opposition parties demand Kerala CM’s resignation

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The protests by opposition parties turned violent in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Kannur and other places. 

The fire at the Kerala secretariat on Tuesday has snowballed into a huge political controversy with activists of opposition parties hitting streets across the state on Wednesday, August 26, demanding resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The Congress-led opposition United Democratic Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party have alleged a conspiracy behind the fire at the protocol department of the secretariat to save the chief minister in the gold smuggling case rocking the state now.

Leader of opposition in the State Assembly made a scathing attack on Vijayan and Chief Secretary Viswas Mehta while launching a protest in front of the secretariat by the Thiruvananthapuram unit of the Congress party.  

"All the people of the state saw the action of Mehta when the fire raged in the secretariat. He was seen chasing away the media who came to find out what happened. He is no longer Vishwas Mehta -- he is 'Avishwas Mehta'. He has lost credibility as his main aim now is to save Vijayan."

He said that the fire was created to save Vijayan as the probe by the National Investigation Agency has now reached his doorsteps. We met the Governor last night and briefed him about what happened. We do not want a probe by Mehta; we demand that the NIA should take up this fire case also," added the Leader of Opposition.

There are reports that gold smuggling case accused PS Sarith and Swapna Suresh had links with officials of the GAD (Protocol) wing, where the fire broke out.

"All heard Vijayan saying that a lightening had recently damaged CCTV at his official residence and the secretariat after the NIA sought the footage to check the links of the accused with the CM’s office and residence. Now this fire. Everything is mysterious as Vijayan now leads a gang out to undo everything. We will not rest until he is ousted," said Chennithala.

Meanwhile, the government claimed that the preliminary investigation into the fire by officials had revealed that the fire was caused by a short circuit. It further claimed that no important files were destroyed in the fire.

The gold smuggling case was unearthed when Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.

Meanwhile, protests by various wings of the opposition parties demanding the resignation of the chief minister turned violent in many places. The protestors clashed with police at Ernakulam, Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram.

Image Credit: Indian Express

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