Kochi/New Delhi: Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala has said that the government is yet to verify the Maoist-link of the nine-member gang of armed men, who vandalised the corporate office of the Indo-Japanese joint venture Nitta Gelatin India Ltd (NGIL) in Kochi Monday morning.
While talking to the media in Delhi on Tuesday morning, the minister said that more investigation was needed to verify the vandalisers’ identity.
Meanwhile, the police have filed a case against nine persons in connection with the incident. They have been charged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
In a brazen act, the gang, raising pro-Maoist slogans, vandalised the Nitta Gelatin corporate office Monday, alleging that the company was causing pollution.
The men with their faces masked and carrying iron pipes and inflammatory liquids barged into the office at Panampillay Nagar and allegedly broke the glass walls and damaged cars parked inside the compound.
They left behind a letter in Malayalam stating that action was being taken against the company as it was causing pollution. The language used in the letter was of some Left Extremist group, he told reporters.
The company had faced protests from locals against its Ossein plant in Kathikudam, near Chalakudy in Thrissur District, over alleged pollution of a river.
The men carried out the attack at around 8 AM while the office was yet to open for the day. Only the security personnel and housekeeping staff and two of the company employees were in the premises when the incident took place, a company statement said.
As the attackers barged in brandishing iron pipes, the security personnel could not resist. They smashed the front glass panel and the glass windows of the security office into pieces and entered the ground floor office and damaged nine desktop computers, all within minutes and threw away some handbills before they left the spot, police said.
Besides the IGP, Kochi Police Commissioner K G James and Company Managing Director Sajiv Menon visited the spot immediately on hearing about the incident.
Kumar said one of the men was heard conversing in Hindi while another in Malayalam. The security guard had told police that the attackers raised 'Maoist' slogans.
Police sounded an alert at all travel points, bus depots and railways stations besides forming a team, including members from state intelligence, to jointly investigate the incident. Forensic experts and dog squad also visited the scene of attack.
Expressing shock at the incident, Menon, denied the pollution charge made by the attackers.
He pointed out to a recent study by National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) under directions of the Kerala High Court on the Ossein Plant of the company at Kathikudam. The study confirmed that the company was compliant with the regulations relating to pollution control, he said.
Kerala High Court had last year directed police protection to the company to ensure smooth operations of its Ossein plant in Kathikudam after protests by locals alleging it was polluting the river, he said.
Established in 1979, NGIL is a joint venture between Japan's Nitta Gelatin Inc and Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation.