Confined to her home for the last one year Neetha P Nambiar (30), an Ayurvedic medical practitioner has lost all hope that she will be able to open her clinic that was forced to down its shutters a year ago.
A group of CPM activists had allegedly barged into her clinic in Kalliyasseri in Kerala’s northern district of Kannur and destroyed furniture and other equipment and threatened to kill her if she opened it again.
On the first anniversary of the attack, she had written an open letter to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan pleading him to intervene and help open her clinic. Almost two weeks passed she is yet to hear from the chief minister’s office.
The young women’s fault: Her mother Bhanumati Vidyadharan had contested the 2015 local body election as a Congress candidate. Though her mother lost to her CPM rival she had managed a good share of the votes. This angered the party men.
Her clinic was attacked more than ten times and it was finally locked on the day Vijayan was sworn in as the chief minister last year. In party village she can’t do this, she was bluntly told by local Marxist leaders.
Nothing new in Kannur where the party enjoys brute majority - it continues to ostracise people who refuse to toe its line. The party is the boss and it has a say in everything.
Neetha said her travails began in May 2015 when she started her clinic in a rented building in the village. Soon she developed a minor hitch with a hotel working on the same premises over sharing common facilities like power and water. But later it was solved through discussions.
"But when my mother contested as the Congress candidate in Kalliyasseri panchayat CPM leaders raked up the old issue and started provoking other shops in the vicinity. A local woman leader of CPM even approached the State Women’s Commission against me citing frivolous charges," she said explaining her two-year-long trauma to Firstpost.
She said she had approached the police a number of occasions but they refused to entertain her complaint fearing the wrath of local leaders. "I don’t know what to do. When some of my patients started coming to my house for consultation party workers forcibly prevented them," she said adding that she had approached a couple of Ayurveda hospitals in nearby areas for a job but all shut their doors citing her rift with the dominant party of the area.
"They want to spoil my career for no fault of mine. In a country like ours everyone has a right to pursue their profession and follow their ideology and belief. It is the beauty of our country. But the party still believes in politics of annihilation and revenge," she said.
Then Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president VM Sudheeran and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Kummanam Rajasekharan had visited her promising all help but she couldn’t reopen her clinic due to the hostile situation.
However, the CPM district leadership has denied any role of the party men in the issue. "A tiff has been prevailing between the doctor and some women who are running a hotel on the same premises. It is wrong to give a political interpretation to a minor issue,” said party district secretary P Jayarajan.
The chief minister’s office maintained that it was not aware of the issue. Upset, she is now planning to write to CPM central leadership and human rights commission.
Congress leaders said she was victimised for not toeing the party line.
"The CPM seldom tolerate contest in party villages during local body elections. If anybody dares to enter the fray, the party browbeats them into withdrawing their candidature. But this time Neetha’s family stood strong. This irked party men. We will support her," said Kannur DCC president Satheesan Pacheni.
This is not an isolated incident in Kannur, the cradle of the communist movement in Kerala. Many who quit CPM and join other parties are attacked and tortured. Two Dalit women at Thalaserry had to face the brunt of her father’s decision to quit the CPM and contest the local body elections on a Congress ticket in November 2015.
When N Rajan, refused to yield to their pressure, the party men started harassing his daughters Akhila (30) and Anjana (25). When the two went to the party office to question the harassment and smear campaign against them, the party men sought to implicate them in a murder attempt case.
On the party workers’ complaint, the two women were called to the police station under the pretext of recording their statement and were taken to the court and remanded in judicial custody. The arrest of the girls, which came a month after the party assumed power, had triggered a nationwide outrage and the National Commission for SC/ST chairman PL Punia had sought a report from the state government.
A senior Congress leader at Kannur said that the harassment was part of the strategy adopted by the CPM to deter the cadres from leaving the organisation. The party often resorts to physical violence to counter their political opponents. More than 250 people have lost their lives due to political violence in the district in the last three decades.
The CPM also does not spare those who breach into their fortresses. A Dalit woman autorickshaw driver at Payyanur was hounded by male auto drivers belonging to the CPM-affiliated Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) since 2004 after she dared to join their trade.
They attacked Chithralekha, who belongs to Pulaya caste, and her husband and damaged her auto rickshaw several times after she joined the auto stand controlled by the CITU at Edatt, on the outskirts of Payyannur.
The male auto drivers were angry with her because she weaned away their women passengers, especially Muslim women. Another reason was her marriage with a man from Thiya community belonging to a party family.
Chithralekha staged a 122-day-long dharna outside the district collectorate in 2014 and a 20-day sit-in in front of the state secretariat at Thiruvananthapuram in February last year forcing the then Oommen Chandy government to rehabilitate her in another village.
The Dalit woman was hounded even after she moved away from her native village. Her auto was damaged allegedly by a CPM worker a month after she called off her agitation in the state capital.
“In Delhi party leaders carry a polished and reformed face. They lead protests against atrocities against Dalits in educational institutions like JNU. But in party villages in north Kerala they follow Stalinist policies of annihilation and prosecution. It is time for the party to remember the West Bengal setback," said a Dalit leader of north Kerala citing rising attacks against Dalits in Kannur district.
Updated Date: Jun 06, 2017 11:40 AM