"This looks like an act of vengeance. We need to find out who did it and why," declared Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
"This attack is alarming. Taking this security lapse into consideration, the state government must deploy central security forces immediately," said BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan.
Reactions poured in from Kerala's political leaders, after the golden base (Panchavargathara) of the flag mast in Sabarimala shrine was found damaged on Sunday, just minutes after it was inaugurated.
The color of the golden base of the mast - that is covered with 9.16 kg of gold, 300 kg of copper and 17 kg of silver - was found to have faded; white spots were visible on it, raising an alarm.
When the investigation began, CCTV visuals revealed that three persons had poured a chemical onto the base, which might have caused the discoloration.
So was it a conspiracy to damage the mast? Or was it an accident?
While the incident raised much alarm and CM Pinarayi Vijayan was quick to order a detailed probe, the police now say that they might rule out the possibility of any conspiracy.
Hours after the discoloration was noticed, the police took three men from Andhra Pradesh into custody, from the KSRTC bus depot in Pamba.
Pathanamthitta Superintendent of Police Satheesh Bino told TNM that the act is suspected to be a ritual that is in practice in Andhra Pradesh.
"The three people we have taken into custody claim that pouring mercury is part of a ritual. Upon inquiry, we have found that there is indeed such a ritual that is practiced by people, although not very popular. However, the mercury is generally poured on the soil along with some grains. Here, on seeing the newly constructed mast, the three men poured the chemical onto it," the SP said.
The senior police official added that prima facie, there were no evidence to contradict their claim.
"The three men had even taken photographs of them pouring the chemical on their mobile phones. We are, however, not ruling out the possibility of anything. The IB and Andhra Police are here, and we are looking into all possible angles," the officer said.
The officer did not reveal the identities of the men who were arrested.
Pamba Circle Inspector Vidhyadharan said that details of the probe shall not be divulged at this point.
"We will be producing the accused in court this evening. More details will be revealed later," the CI said. Although the chemical analysis team confirmed that the chemical used was mercury, the police is yet to receive the test results.
According to the police, the discoloration on the base of the mast was rectified earlier this morning.