Secretariat fire: Opposition stages protest, Congress leaders denied entry, BJP leaders arrested
Thiruvananthapuram: Clashes erupted in the protest staged by opposition parties after a fire broke out at the Protocol Office in the Secretariat building complex here on Tuesday evening.
Congress party staged a protest demanding a probe into the incident. Police blocked all the leaders who reached the Secretariat after the news broke out. The protest strengthened in front of the Secretariat gate after VS Shivakumar and others were denied entry to the Secretariat. Soon after this, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala also reached the spot. Following this, Ramesh Chennithala, VS Shivakumar, VT Balram and Sabarinath MLA were given entry to the Secretariat in order to prevent further clashes.
As soon as the news of the fire broke out, Chief Secretary Vishwas Metha rushed to the spot and asked all media persons to leave the place, which was objected to by some political leaders.
"As soon as I came to know of the fire, I came and saw a huge crowd. As Chief Secretary, I will tell you that there is nothing to hide. Only after probing the matter, the extent of damage will be known. What happened was that everybody rushed to the place, including political leaders, and seeing this I came down and asked them to move out," said Metha, adding, "We do not have any political agenda."
Hearing the news of the fire, BJP State President K Surendran and others rushed to the Secretariat, but he and his followers were taken into custody by the police.
"A detailed probe should take place. The situation is so grave that even a legislator like me was not allowed entry. This is nothing but a cover up and everything is being kept under wraps," said VS Sivakumar, local Congress legislator and former state minister.
A fire was reported in the protocol section of the General Administration Department in the Secretariat which led to the gutting of several office files. The fire occurred at a time when the National investigation Agency had demanded some documents from the protocol officer in connection with the gold smuggling case. Opposition parties cried foul and claimed deliberate attempt to destroy evidence and protect the perpetrators.
(With IANS inputs)