Cong, BJP seek NIA probe into ‘suspicious’ Kerala Secretariat fire

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 26 (IANS) The Congress led UDF and the BJP – the two principal opposition political fronts in Kerala, on Wednesday demanded a NIA probe into the fire that broke out at the state Secretariat, in the general administration department (GAD) political wing, here on Tuesday.

The local police have registered a case and the FIR mentions that few files pertaining to bookings made at various state run guest houses have been damaged.

The cause of the fire has now been attributed to a fan where a plastic part got burned and it fell on a curtain.

Across the state, angry activists of these political fronts took to the streets and clashed with police as they were demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, presently caught in various scams and allegations of corruption levelled against him in and outside of the Assembly.

State Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran said the fire in the Secretariat is suspicious as crucial files pertaining to the travel of Vijayan and his key confidantes are all kept there.

“The fire conspiracy is baffling and mysterious and for the truth to come out, only a NIA probe will bring out the truth as they already are probing the gold smuggling case. The CBI also should be roped in as a joint probe would bring out the truth. Do not know why Vijayan is silent. He is fearing something,” said Ramachandran.

“Everything is suspicious and fail to understand why the Chief Secretary wore the cap of a security officer when the fire took place,” added Ramachandran.

Senior Lok Sabha member N.K. Premachandran said that he has written to the Prime Minister and others in Delhi for effective intervention in investigating the truth in the fire episode.

State BJP president K. Surendran, who was one of the first to reach the Secretariat after hearing of the fire was forcefully taken into custody by the police, said that last month the GAD had come out with a circular to be careful of fire and that is exactly what followed.

“A chief secretary led probe has been announced by the government, but none wants such a probe. We demand the NIA should probe this as deals in Life Mission and the gold smuggling have a link and so does the fire,” said Surendran.

“It was surprising to hear a State Minister E.P. Jayarajan saying how I reached the spot of fire so quickly. It's hilarious to ask such a question because it's been asked by those who protested when a fire broke out in the Amazon forests. Moreover, when a fire broke out in a fraud ‘godman's' place here, the first to reach there was Vijayan, but, he did not turn up at the spot of the fire in the Secretariat,” added Surendran.

Meanwhile the Kerala Police has registered a case against Surendran and eight other BJP workers for criminal trespass into the Secretariat.

Vijayan however has gone silent and has been ducking the media and his customary Covid review press meets have also stopped, ever since he was faced with uncomfortable questions over the gold smuggling case and Life Mission project.

The gold smuggling case was unearthed when Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 while allegedly facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold from Dubai.

Things turned murkier when the name of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the Consulate, and employed with the IT Department, surfaced. Later, her links with now-suspended IAS officer M. Sivasankar, then posted as Principal secretary to Vijayan and also the IT Secretary, came to light.



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