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More PFI arrests, blame-game in Tamil Nadu over petrol bomb attacks on BJP-RSS cadres’ properties

Tamil Nadu BJP chief K. Annamalai has demanded police protection for BJP, RSS functionaries. Police say 14 arrests have been made in connection with the petrol bomb attacks.

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Chennai: With repeated instances of petrol bomb attacks on properties of BJP and RSS functionaries in the state, the Coimbatore police arrested a member of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the Popular Front of India’s political arm, late Monday for allegedly hurling a petrol bomb at the BJP office in the city on the night of 22 September.

Earlier in the day, the Pollachi police in Coimbatore district arrested three PFI members for allegedly damaging two cars and two auto rickshaws and attempting to set a goods vehicle on fire last Thursday.

Murasoli, the DMK’s mouthpiece, alleged the involvement of the BJP in the petrol bomb attacks, although Chief Minister M.K. Stalin is yet to make a public statement on the attacks. The allegation was echoed by DMK’s allies, CPM, VCK and CPI who said that the BJP was “notorious for organising attacks on itself and blaming others to garner publicity”.

Following the arrest of PFI leaders last Thursday in a joint operation by the NIA, ED and local police forces, petrol bombs were hurled at the BJP office on VKK Menon road in Coimbatore and a nearby textile shop. Similar incidents have since been reported in Madurai, Pollachi, Erode and even Thoothukudi.

Coimbatore Police Commissioner V. Balakrishnan told ThePrint that three arrests were made in connection with incidents that took place on the night of 22 September. “The arrests were all based on evidence collected from CCTV footage,” he said, adding that all those arrested were affiliated with the SDPI.

Tamil Nadu police said that they have arrested 14 persons till Monday in connection with 11 such cases. No injuries have been reported in these attacks, the police clarified.

Speaking to ThePrint Monday R. Sudhakar, Inspector General of Police (IG), west zone, said of the five wanted in Pollachi, three miscreants had been arrested. The police have also made one arrest in Erode. “After incidents on 22nd night in Coimbatore, we ensured there are no more incidents,” he said, adding that an SDPI member is among the four arrested for allegedly hurling a petrol bomb at a shop owned by a BJP youth wing leader in Erode.

On Sunday, persons allegedly affiliated with SDPI hurled a Molotov cocktail, which did not explode, at the home of RSS’s Salem Town community organiser V.K. Rajan. Police have now arrested Salem SDPI district president N. Syed Ali and K. Khadeer Hussein, who is the president of SDPI’s Salem ward 34 unit, in connection with the attack based on CCTV footage.

However, Mohamed Shaik Ansari, president of the PFI’s Tamil Nadu unit, claimed that the attacks might have been staged for political gain.

“There was an incident of a person who cut his own arm and got himself admitted to a hospital, claiming he was a victim of a terror attack. Another office-bearer [of BJP-RSS] claimed he was abducted, to get personal security, and there was an instance of a person setting fire to his own car,” Ansari reportedly said. “We have doubts whether they are trying to make sure that it [faking attacks] would support the actions of central agencies,” he added.

IG Sudhakar said Coimbatore remains on “high alert” with 2,000 police personnel from different districts of the state deployed there to maintain law and order. The move was also preceded by demonstrations held by the BJP in Coimbatore Monday to condemn the “indiscriminate arrest” of party functionaries protesting the remarks of DMK deputy general secretary and former Union minister A. Raja, who they alleged, “defamed Hindus and Hindu religion”.

Similarly, as many as 1,000 police personnel have been deployed in Tirupur, 1,000 in Erode and Rapid Action Force (RAF) has been deployed in Mettupalayam and Pollachi, Sudhakar told ThePrint.

Even as fresh attacks took place in Salem on Sunday, Tamil Nadu DGP C. Sylendra Babu warned the troublemakers of action under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).

Following the back-to-back attacks, the Tamil Nadu government went into a huddle Saturday with chief secretary V. Irai Anbu chairing a review meeting to assess the law and order situation. Tamil Nadu BJP chief K. Annamalai, meanwhile, submitted a petition to the DGP seeking police protection for BJP and RSS leaders in the state. 

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: 50-day planning, 93 locations, 106 arrests — how NIA, ED executed India’s 1st ‘coordinated raids’


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