Violence involving BJP-RSS and ruling CPI-(M) workers rocked politically-volatile Kannur district in north Kerala Saturday with a number of houses and shops of rival leaders and workers being attacked over the Sabarimala issue.
Bombs were hurled at several places, including at the houses of CPI(M) MLA AN Shamseer in Madapeedikayil, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member V Muraleedharan at Vadiyil Peedikia and former Kannur district secretary of CPI(M) P Sasi at Thalassery past midnight, police said.
No one was injured in the attacks.
The BJP MP's ancestral home was attacked hours after bombs were thrown at the homes of Shamseer and Sasi when leaders of the Marxist party and BJP-RSS were attending a peace meeting here.
The attacks, which disrupted normal life, marked the return of political violence on large-scale after a gap of over a year in the sensitive district.
Kerala has been rocked by violent protests by BJP-RSS and right-wing outfits after two women of menstruating age offered prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple on January 2.
Besides Kannur, Perambra in neighbouring Kozhikode, Malappuram, and Adoor in Pathanamthitta, where the Ayyappa shrine is located, also witnessed a series of similar attacks and vandalism Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday.
As the violence continued to disrupt normal life in Kannur and other places, state police chief Loknath Behera sounded a state-wide alert and gave direction to take stern action against those responsible for the attacks on the houses of party leaders.
A total of 260 people have been arrested so far in connection with the Kannur violence in the last two days, an official statement said adding patrolling and raids had been intensified across the district. Police carried out a route march Saturday morning in Thalassery, where 19 people had been arrested and 33 taken into preventive custody.
In another incident, unidentified people set fire to an office of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Pariyaram area in the morning, police sources told PTI. A CPI(M) worker was attacked at Perumbara in Iritty in the district last night while RSS leader K Chandrasekharan was assaulted in Thalassery and his house ransacked allegedly by a group of around 25 Marxist workers.
With the tension continuing, the CPI(M) and the BJP-RSS leaderships traded charges and blamed each other for the violent attacks. CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that the RSS was trying to trigger riot in the state and sabotage peace talks.
The RSS-BJP combine was turning temples and educational institutions managed by them as "armoury", he alleged, adding the ruling party would take the initiative to restore peace in violence-hit areas. Echoing similar views, CPI-M Kannur District Secretary P Jayarajan urged the Sangh Parivar forces to end violence.
The Left party would take steps to ensure peace, he told a television channel. Countering the charges, V Muraleedharan said the incidents of violence were the tactics of the ruling CPI(M) to divert attention from the controversies and protests over the violation of the traditional customs at the Sabarimala temple.
The BJP MP said his ancestral home at Vadiyil Peedikia near Thalassery was attacked, but none had been injured.
"My sister, brother-in-law and their daughter were in the house when the attack took place. Fortunately, they were not harmed," he told PTI from Andhra Pradesh.
The entry of two women into the hill shrine on Wednesday, the first time since the Supreme Court in September last year lifted the age-linked ban on the entry of women devotees, has triggered massive protests in Kerala.
So far, over 1,700 people have been arrested in connection with violence in various parts of the state.
Located in north Kerala, Kannur has been the hotbed of political violence especially between the CPI(M) and BJP and witnessed bloody clashes and killings over the years.