Barely two months after the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government assumed office in Kerala, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, state secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) that heads the ruling front, had asked his party men to ensure that those who attack them should not go back as they came.
The murder of a BJP activist two days after a CPM worker was hacked to death in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's Dharmadam constituency in the politically-volatile Kannur district on Monday is widely seen as a virtual implementation of the party chief's advice.
Thirty-year-old Remith was attacked with sharp weapons on Wednesday morning by a group of people at a petrol pump near Pinarayi town. He suffered deep wounds on his head and neck and died before reaching the hospital.
The murder of Remith is seen as an act of retaliation against the murder of CPM worker, Kuzhichal Mohanan, on Monday. Mohanan, 52, a CPM branch secretary, was hacked to death by six unidentified masked men at his shop in a busy market area in Valankichal.
Accusing the CPM of murdering their party activist, the state unit of the BJP has called a state-wide hartal on Thursday to register their protest against the political violence in the state. The party had taken out a march to the CPM headquarters in New Delhi on Monday in protest against the alleged encouragement given by the CPM to political violence.
The murder of Mohanan is not viewed as an isolated incident. Political observers in Kannur do not rule out its connection with the murder of the father of Remith, Chodon Uthaman, 14 years ago. Uthaman, a bus driver, was stabbed to death inside the bus he was driving, by a group of assailants at Keezhur, near Pinarayi on 23 May, 2002.
The murder of Remith came soon after the CPM alleged the hands of the BJP and RSS behind the murder of Mohanan. The CPM had claimed that the BJP, which failed to win the state assembly elections, was resorting to such violent attacks as an act of revenge.
The murder of Remith is the seventh political murder in Kannur after the LDF came to power. The murder spree that started with the death of 47-year-old CPM activist Raveendran, in a bomb attack on the CPM victory rally on the counting day on 19 May has claimed five lives — three CPM and two BJP men — so far.
In addition to this, a BJP worker was killed in an explosion while handling bombs kept in his house near Kadirur in Kannur district. There have been several attacks on political workers and activists since the LDF government came to power.
According to official statistics, more than 50 political attacks have taken place in the district so far. However, BJP has claimed a total 400 cases of violence in the first four months of the government. BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi had claimed that 200 BJP workers were assaulted, maimed or killed, and 200 homes burnt during this period.
Political violence was a major poll plank of the BJP for the 16 May Assembly polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched his campaign by presenting a victim of the political violence. S Sadanandan, who lost both his legs in the CPM attack, was the party’s candidate at Koothuparamba in Kannur district, the hot bed of political violence in the state.
The Prime Minister had taken up the political murders as a major issue when Vijayan called on him first time after assuming office. However, the chief minister left the onus on the BJP saying that he was prepared to bring peace to Kannur if the Sangh parivar was ready to eschew violence.
The CPM had claimed that the BJP, which failed to win the state assembly elections, was resorting to such violent attacks as an act of revenge
The BJP, on its part, accused the CPM of continuing the politics of violence. The national council of the party held at Kozhikode last month took the issue to the national level by compiling the lives of the martyrs and asking the media to debate the issue at the national level.
Pinarayi pleaded helplessness in ending the violence stating that they were being committed by people training by some special groups. He said that some of these groups were also controlling certain political parties.
He accused the Sangh parivar of unleashing violence with the help of the party's government at the Centre. He said that the violence was part of the attempt by the BJP to consolidate its base in the state by creating communal divide.
The opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front has viewed the chief minister's statement as an admission of his helplessness in ending the political violence. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president VM Sudheeran termed the recent murders as a clear indication of the breakdown of law and order in the state.
He has urged Pinrayi to relinquish the home portfolio. Sudheeran said that the police controlled by Pinrayi had failed to maintain the law and order. The chief minister, who controls the home portfolio, is responsible for the breakdown of the law and order, he said.