Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala): A fire broke out at the Kerala Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday evening leading to protests by both Congress and BJP leaders who alleged that it was was a conspiracy to destroy evidence in connection with the gold smuggling case.
The fire broke out this evening and smoke was seen coming out one of the floors of the secretariat building. The fire was later doused and no injuries were reported. Briefing reporters later Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta said a comprehensive probe will be carried out.
Both Congress and BJP leaders held a protest outside Kerala Secretariat alleging that fire was not an accident and it was a conspiracy to destroy evidence in connection with the gold smuggling case.
The Kerala BJP President K Surendran was arrested from outside the state Secretariat during the protest.
"The files containing details about gold smuggling case, including details sought by NIA and other investigation agencies in connection with Minister KT Jaleel was purposefully burnt. BJP leaders including me were arrested when we visited there to bring out the truth," said Surendran in a statement post his arrest.
Opposition Leader in the Legislative Assembly Ramesh Chennithala demanded an inquiry by National Investigation Agency into the matter. He also called on Governor Arif Mohammed Khan over secretariat fire.
"Fire broke out near Minister K. Krishnankutty's office and three complete sections of documents have been destroyed. Very important documents related to the Gold Smuggling case have been destroyed and the most important thing is there is no back-up of these files," he said.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan tweeted about the incident: "Documents or material that could expose @VijayanPinarayi & his cronies seems to have been gutted in the fire. This incident smells foul & exposes the rot in @CMOKerala. A thorough investigation is needed to ascertain claims of this so-called "Short Circuit." Meanwhile, Chennithala added that his party will hold a black day tomorrow in the state, and held Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan responsible.
"There is a lot of suspicion in the case and I hold the chief minister responsible. Earlier he said the CCTV cameras Chief Secretory's office was destroyed by lightning and thunder. We can't believe that. We'll observe a black day tomorrow in the whole state. We requested NIA to investigate the matter," he said.
BJP leader O Rajagopal also expressed his suspicion about sabotage.
"The protocol office is the nerve centre of the Securitate, why was there no security, and if there was, why were they not able to control the fire. We believe sabotage has happened there," asked Rajagopal.
Further information is awaited.