THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The BJP's Kerala unit office here was today vandalised allegedly by ruling CPI-M's youth and student wing activists, of which four, including a marxist councillor, were later arrested.
Police said a five persons, who came on two-wheelers, hurled stones at the BJP office and damaged vehicles parked there with a baseball bat.
The arrested CPI-M activists include a councillor, I P Binu. His house was allegedly attacked by BJP workers after CCTV visuals purportedly showed him at the forefront of the violence, they said.
The CPI-M suspended two of its workers including Binu, who represents the Kunnukuzhi ward in the city corporation, where the BJP state office is located.
The early morning incident is the latest in the series of similar attacks on rival party workers' houses in parts of the district following skirmishes between cadres of the CPI(M) and the BJP in the past couple of days.
Hours after the incident, the house of CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's son Bineesh Kodiyeri was attacked allegedly by BJP-RSS activists but the BJP denied any role in it.
In view of the tense situation in some parts of Thiruvanathapuram, police prohibited protest marches, demonstrations and meetings for three days.
City Police Commissioner G Saparjan Kumar said orders in this regard were issued in the wake of political clashes and attack on houses, party offices and vehicles of party activists late mid-night yesterday.
Six BJP youth wing activists have been arrested in connection with the attack on CPI-M workers' houses and for damaging properties, police said.
Balakrishnan condemned the attack on houses of CPI-M workers and alleged that it would not have happened without the knowledge of CPI(M) state leadership.
He alleged that the attacks were planned to divert attention from graft charges against some of the BJP leaders.
"They need not think that such attempts will weaken the probe against BJP leaders," Balakrishnan said.
He was referring to a vigilance probe ordered into allegations that a BJP functionary, who has since been expelled, had taken bribe for getting Medical Council of India approval for a private medical college.
The BJP, which expelled the functionary from the party primary membership soon after the issue surfaced in the public domain, has distanced itself from the issue, saying it was a financial fraud committed by an individual and the party and the Centre had no role in it.
Stating that attacking party offices of its rivals was not the CPI-M policy, Balakrishnan said: "Whatever the provocation is, party offices should never come under attack."
Alleging that RSS was trying to provoke party workers, he said party has asked its cadres to maintain self-restraint.
"We want peace in the state. The RSS is trying to create problems to show the law and order situation has worsened," he told reporters.
The BJP alleged that law and order in the state had collapsed and the attack targeted state President Kumanam Rajasekharan, who was present in the office at Kunnukuzhi locality at that time.
The party alleged that activists of the Democratic Youth Federation of India and the Students' Federation of India were involved in the attack.
Two police personnel who were on duty at the BJP office at the time of the incident have been suspended, officials said.
This is the second attack on the BJP state office since September last year when a bomb was hurled at it.
Rajasekharan alleged that the law and order situation in the state had collapsed.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should explain and order a probe into the role of "police officials in the attack", he said.
Condemning the attack on the BJP office, party state general secretary M T Ramesh termed it as a "planned conspiracy" and alleged it would not have happened without the knowledge of CPI(M) state leadership.
The attack on party office was "a calculated attempt on the life of Rajasekharan", he told reporters.
CCTV visuals of the incident had clearly identified the attackers as DYFI and SFI leaders, he claimed.
He also alleged that the assailants had police protection and a police personnel on duty had opened the office gate.
"Only one policeman tried to stop, but he was also pushed around," Ramesh said showing the CCTV visuals to reporters.
He said the BJP had no role in the attack on the house of Balakrishnan's son. "Let the police probe it," he said adding the CPI-M was clever in spreading "false propaganda".
Reacting to the ongoing skirmishes, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said both the BJP and the CPI-M need to show self-restraint and desist from violence.
The CCTV visuals shown at the press briefing by the BJP purportedly showed five persons, who came on three twowheelers, hurling stones and breaking the glass panes of vehicles parked in front of the office.
One of the attackers was using a baseball bat and another a wooden plank.
The visuals also showed a policeman posted at the office grappling with the attackers to stop them.