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CPI(M) office at Anchal set ablaze

By Our Staff Reporter

KOLLAM, MAY 11. The double-storeyed M.A. Ashraf Memorial building at Thadikkad, near Anchal in Kollam district, that houses the Arakkal Local Committee office of the CPI(M), was set ablaze today.

Eyewitnesses told the police that a gang that arrived in four jeeps at 3 a.m. today rushed to the top floor, broke down the door, doused the hall with petrol and set the building on fire. There was no one in the building at the time of the incident.

The CPI(M) has alleged that activists of the National Development Front (NDF) had set the building on fire.

The Anchal Police also stated that they suspect NDF activists to be behind the incident.

In addition to the local committee office of the CPI(M), the building also housed the office of the Literacy Mission unit and the M.A. Ashraf Memorial Library and Sports Club. M.A. Ashraf was a CPI(M) leader of the area who was hacked to death by a gang at Thadikkad on the night of July 18, 2002. Police arrested seven NDF activists of the area in connection with the murder and the case is pending trial before a court here. All the accused are out on bail.

Ashraf used to be in the forefront, opposing NDF activities at Anchal.

Soon after he was murdered, the CPI(M) launched the Rs.6.5-lakh building project in his memory.

The foundation stone for the building was laid by the CPI(M) State secretary, Pinarayi Vijayan, on September 1, 2002, and the building inaugurated by the Leader of the Opposition, V.S. Achuthanandan, on May 19, 2003.

Yesterday, when the prime accused in the Ashraf murder case, Abdul Khader, came to cast his vote at a polling station in Thadikkad, he was chased by the CPI(M) activists present there. Khader managed to escape.

Police suspect that the building was set fire in retaliation to that incident. Since it was polling day a meeting was held in the evening at the party local committee office in the building.

Plastic chairs used for the meeting kept piled in the hall were set on fire by the miscreants. The fire not only charred everything inside the hall, but also scarred the wall and left the floor with fissures.

A hartal was observed at Anchal, Edamulakkal and Arakkal areas in protest against the incident. Meanwhile, the vacant house of Abdul Khader was burnt down allegedly by CPI(M) activists later in the morning. The Anchal police have registered two separate cases.

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