By Srinivasa Prasad
Even as CPM leaders were busy crusading for the rights of JNU students in Delhi, a bunch of the party’s thugs hacked to death an RSS worker at Kannur in Kerala on Monday.
That the CPM’s fight for civil rights is limited to Left sympathisers and India-baiters is nowhere as clear as it is in the northern Kerala, where the party’s workers kill RSS-BJP supporters with amazing regularity.
The Sangh Parivar has, of course, never been found wanting in matching brutality with brutality in the region that has come to be known as Kerala’s “killing fields”.
Kannur residents are bracing themselves for another bout of Sicilian-type vendetta that often sparks a chain of savage killings. The proximity of elections, just three months away, only keeps the nerves on edge.
Monday’s murder of the 27-year-old PV Sujith was the latest in serial killings that have intermittently rocked Kannur for four decades. On Monday night a gang of assailants, whom the police later arrested and identified as CPM workers, stormed into Sujith’s house in Aroli and attacked him with sticks and knives before his old parents and a younger brother.
Sujith’s crime? He had vigorously campaigned for the BJP in the recent local body elections in Aroli and the party had polled a substantial number of votes. Intolerance for political adversaries has been the motive in all CPM’s killings in Kannur which began some 40 years ago when the RSS began to flex its own political muscles there.
Article XI, Section (k) of the CPM’s constitution asks its members “to defend the Party and uphold its cause against the onslaught of the enemies of the Party, the working class and the country.”
The loyal party cadres find that the easiest way to do it is to bludgeon all such “enemies” to instant death.
The RSS would like us to believe that it was the killing of its mukhyashikshak Vadikkal Ramakrishnan by the communists in 1968 that started it all. The CPM says it’s rubbish. The party claims that its heroic efforts to protect Muslims in the Hindu-Muslim riots in Thalassery in 1971 had left the RSS in a vengeful mood. Whoever or whatever sparked it, the killings continue unabated.
Just as Indiana Jones told “Panama Hat” in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ that the world was “too small” for the two of them, the CPM and the RSS seem to tell each other that Kannur is too tiny a place to have both of them. One must annihilate the other.
And like cameos in films, members of the Congress and the Muslim League occasionally pop up, beating up a Marxist here or lynching a Marxist there. But it’s the CPM and the RSS-BJP that are the key players in Kerala’s blood sport. And by all accounts, the CPM is the current champion.
For the CPM, the hammer and sickle are not just part of its election symbol. They are potential tools of murder. Swords, axes, knives come in handy for both sides. Crude bombs, made at homes with the same ease as appams and mutta curry, are a common feature.
The CPM has many “party villages”—a euphemism for KGB-style “safe houses” where perpetrators of mayhem can hide. Over time, the BJP too followed suit with its own “party villages”. Outsiders can enter such places only with dire consequences, which may include a one-way ticket to hell.
Like the KGB, Kerala’s CPM has zero tolerance for defectors. In a murder that shook the state in 2012, CPM workers killed TP Chandrasekharan, who had broken away from the party and launched his own outfit, by hacking his face with knives beyond recognition.
The killings are always savage. Like Sujith of RSS last week, KV Sudeesh of SFI was hacked to death in 1994 in front of his parents. The SFI says Sudeesh was stabbed 37 times by “RSS fascists”.
In 1999, KT Jayakrishnan of BJP, a schoolteacher, was killed in the classroom with blood spilling on his sixth standard students. The terrified children had to undergo psychiatric treatment.
The precise number of political killings in the region is hard to get, though the police claim that the number is no more than 200 in last 40 years. An RTI petition revealed that 56 people had died in political violence during the 10 years between 1997 and 2008.
The RSS claims that it’s the worst victim of “communist terrorism”. But the swayamsevaks evidently do not subscribe to the philosophy that when one is slapped on one cheek by the enemy one must turn the other cheek too. The CPM claims that more than 300 of its activists have been eliminated by “RSS criminals” since 1980. The party’s website lists many of these “martyrs”.
But this week’s murder of Sujith came at a particularly embarrassing time for the CPM’s state and central leaderships. And it was not just because the party’s leaders were tirelessly talking about freedom and democracy in the JNU context.
Only three days before Sujith was killed, P Jayarajan, the Kannur district secretary of CPM, surrendered to a court to face trial for the September 2014 murder of RSS worker Elanthottathil Manoj.
CPM workers threw home-made bombs at the car in which Manoj was travelling and, when the vehicle lost control, stabbed him.
Manoj’s crime was that he had unsuccessfully tried to kill Jayarajan in 1999. The CBI, which was asked to probe the case, said Jayarajan was the “kingpin and mastermind” behind Manoj’s murder as well as “several other brutal crimes”.
Jayarajan had earlier been arrested for the murder of Muslim League worker Abdul Shukoor. Earlier this month, the Kerala High Court ordered a CBI inquiry into Shukoor’s killing after the police said the CPM’s “intimidatory tactics” had prevented them from conducting a proper investigation.
After Manoj’s murder, Jayarajan had said that the Congress and the Sangh Parivar were colluding to implicate CPM in false cases to make his party look like a “terrorist outfit.” But nobody was convinced.
Jayarajan’s bluff was called by his own son Jain Raj, who boasted on a social media site that the killing was “long awaited”, which prompted the police to slap a case on the son as well.
This was not the first time that CPM boasted of its killings. In 2012, senior CPM leader MM Mani made a chilling confession at a public rally that the party had methodically eliminated its rivals in the Idukki district in 1980s. He was arrested.
At the root of this mindless violence has always been the perception of threat from political adversaries. The CPM has always been in a panic over RSS taking away its supporters. This fear only strengthened in the last five years, and that’s not surprising.
The BJP increased its vote share from 4.75 per cent in the 2006 assembly elections to 6.06 in the 2011 assembly elections, to 10.3 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and an all-time high of 13.3 per cent in the 2015 civic elections.
Kerala has been calm since Monday’s killing. But a peaceful Kerala makes people more tense than a tense Kerala. During tension, one knows whose murder is causing it. During peace, one has no way of knowing who will be next.