THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An anonymous man, wearing helmet, today barged into Vellarada village office along Tamil Nadu border, locked up the officers after setting fire inside the office. Five officers including the Village officer were injured in the incident. The injured have been admitted to hospital and the condition of one person is reported to be serious. Office files, computer, furniture and other records were destroyed in the fire. The incident happened Thursday morning at around 11:30, sending shock waves all over the State.
The village office is currently functioning from a temporary building between a Child care centre and Homoeopathy hospital, at Vellarada Anappara junction.
Village officer Mohanan, Special Village officer Krishna Kumar, Field assistants Venugopal and Prabhakaran Nair sustained burns. Part time sweeper Vijayamma, who developed suffocation after inhaling smoke, also took medical treatment. Venugopal, meanwhile, has been shifted to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College from Neyyattinkara Taluk office, as his burns are severe.
According to the victims, a man wearing helmet entered the office all on a sudden, put the bag he was carrying on the floor, shouting that “I shall show you a trick”. As the staff looked aghast, he took a bottle filled with some inflammable liquid, spattered it all over the floor and ignited it. Soon the fire spread to the furniture and cupboard. Some officials got burns as they tried to salvage files and documents stacked in shelves and cupboards.
In the melee, the anonymous man’s pants and shoes also caught fire. Soon after this, he ran outside, locked up the door, shouting “I’’ll show you”. He then reportedly rode off his bike and vanished from the site. “Unable to escape, some regained their presence of mind and tried to douse flames with water. Some found shelter in the toilet.
Though some said there was a sound of explosion in the office, this has not been confirmed. People who were waiting outside to remit taxes and get done other official things ran away, seeing the fire and hence none of them got injured.
Coming to know about the incident, people from nearby areas started crowding around. Panchayat member Thankappan Nair and locals rushed to the spot, opened the door and rescued the victims. Officials who sustained burns were first taken to Vellarada PH centre and then to Neyyattinkara Taluk hospital.
Police from Vellarada and Fireforce personnel from Neyyattinkara were later arrived at the spot after which the fire was brought under control. A police team led by Rural SP and forensic expert have started investigation and collecting evidence. Police are trying to find out whether the attack was a manifestation of some person’s frustration over the service rendered by officers in the Village office.