Petrol bomb hurled at Tamil Nadu Raj Bhavan sets off blame game

While Governor’s office claims “attack” and slams DMK, police deny allegations of security lapse.

Published : Oct 26, 2023 21:51 IST - 4 MINS READ

Police personnel guard outside the Raj Bhavan after a petrol bomb was hurled outside its main gate in Chennai on October 25, 2023.

Police personnel guard outside the Raj Bhavan after a petrol bomb was hurled outside its main gate in Chennai on October 25, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

A habitual offender threw an improvised Molotov cocktail near the main entrance of the Raj Bhavan, Tamil Nadu, where Governor R. N. Ravi and his family reside, on Wednesday (October 25) evening. No one, however, was injured, nor was any property damaged. It left a small patch of burnt-out black soot and ashes on the road.

The British-built mansion, which serves as the official residence of the Tamil Nadu Governor, is located deep inside the sprawling 156-acre Raj Bhavan complex, nearly half a kilometre away from Gate No.1, the main entrance where the crude incendiary material was hurled. Police officers stationed at the main gate immediately overpowered the 42-year-old miscreant, identified as Vinod, alias ‘Karukka’ Vinod of Nandanam, Chennai, who had previously been involved in similar criminal acts.

The Governor’s office reacted sharply. On social media platform X, it issued an alarming message by late evening claiming that “Raj Bhavan was attacked today afternoon.” It stated that some miscreants armed with petrol bombs attempted to enter through the Main Gate. “However, alert sentries prevented them from entering the Raj Bhavan and a grave untoward incident was averted.” It also said that the first petrol bomb “burst with a huge sound” and caused “severe damage to the main entrance”.

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Raj Bhavan’s Deputy Secretary to Governor, T. Sengottaiyan filed a three-page complaint with the Commissioner of Police, Chennai City, urging a thorough investigation into the incident to identify the “conspirators behind the attacks”. He noted that there had been “sustained vicious attacks” on the Governor in the past, involving filthy abuses and threats. He accused the leaders and workers of the DMK and its allies for the verbal attacks and threats against the Governor.

He recalled an incident in which the Governor was physically attacked with sticks and stones while on his way to attend a scheduled function at the Dharmapuram Adeenam on April 18, 2022. Unfortunately, the police had trivialised all these cases of abuse, attack, and assault, he added. “A Governor cannot work under the shadow of constant threats,” he said and asked the police to take necessary action and ensure adequate security for the Governor.

The police denied these charges concerning the bomb incident. “On Wednesday, the accused Vinod, in an inebriated condition, walked towards the Raj Bhavan from the nearby Saidapet Court Complex, from where he stole some petrol from a motorbike. After reaching the Raj Bhavan signal, he threw a bottle containing petrol with a lighted wick from the other side of the road. It fell near one of the iron barricades erected for security purposes near the Raj Bhavan entrance. It did not burst. However, a detailed probe alone will tell us about his intentions behind his act,” said a police officer.

Additional Commissioner of Police, Chennai South, Prem Anand Sinha, told the media that the repeated offender was involved in similar types of criminal offenses in the past. In 2022, he threw the same type of explosive material at the BJP office in Thiyagaraya Nagar, Chennai, also near a police station, and at a TASMAC (which sells alcoholic beverages) shop in 2017. He recently came out of prison on bail. “The investigation is ongoing to find out the motive behind this incident,” the senior official said.

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The city police have registered cases under Sections 435 and 436 (committing mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy any building, dwelling unit, place of worship, etc.), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from the discharge of his duty), 506 (ii) (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, Act 3 of the Explosive Substances Act, and 4 of TNPPDL Act. Vinod was sent to a 15-day judicial custody. Meanwhile, the Governor refused to meet the Chennai Commissioner of Police Sandeep Rai Rathore who sought an appointment with the former to brief about the investigation. The official however reviewed the security at the Raj Bhavan.

Political fallout

As expected, the issue has gained significant political traction in the State, where there is a no-holds-barred confrontation between the DMK-led State government and the Governor, both on administrative and ideological fronts. The DMK has been accusing the Governor of stalling its constitutionally mandated functioning with ulterior political motives. Many of the Bills passed by the Assembly have been lying idle in the Governor’s office. Additionally, the State BJP, which is trying to position itself as the principal opposition party in Tamil Nadu, has been a constant irritant to the DMK politically.

Ironically, aside from the BJP and the AIADMK, along with a few tiny outfits, other major political parties have chosen to remain silent on the recent petrol bomb incident.

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