An all-party meeting convened by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on 21 November had resolved to end political violence in the northern district of Kannur, but the merchants of death have breached the deal in less than two months by murdering a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker in his own Assembly constituency in the district.
The cycle of political killings going on since the Assembly election in 2016 May returned to haunt the district with the murder of 52-year old Mullapram Ezhuthan Santhosh. An unidentified gang broke into his house at Andallur near Dharmadom at 11.30 pm on Wednesday and hacked him to death.
His wife and two children were not at home at the time of murder. Santhosh himself had informed his friends about the attack, but he had succumbed to the injury by the time they rushed him to the hospital.
Blaming the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), the district unit of the BJP staged a shut-down strike in the district in protest against the murder. The dawn to dusk strike affected normal life in the districts with shops and business establishments downing shutters and vehicles keeping off the road.
District leaders of the CPM have denied the charge. Party Pinarayi area secretary K Manoharan urged the police to bring the killers before the law. The leader said in a statement on Thursday that the party would not protect if any party men were found involved in the crime.
BJP district president Sathya Prakash said Santhosh was murdered by the CPM activists due to political rivalry. He told the Firstpost that the party men had targeted him after he contested the local body election at Andallur.
Local police believe that the murder could be the culmination of the clashes going on between the CPM and BJP activists in the area for some time now. An official at Dharmadam station said that the student wings of the two parties had clashed at the local college over the celebration of Vivekanada Jayanthi.
“The Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the CPM, has been unleashing a reign of terror in the area. They attacked an RSS activist in the area without any provocation. They also assaulted a school student for refusing to attend a meeting of the SFI,” the BJP leader said.
Sathya Prakash said that the RSS office at Thaliparampu was attacked soon after the murder of Santhosh. He said that the attack came after the chief minister used the ongoing state school art festival forum at Kannur to warn befitting reply to 'those' who try to suppress freedom of expression.
A debate has been raging in the state over the freedom of expression after senior BJP leaders came down heavily on cultural leaders, including noted writer and Jnanpith award winner M T Vasudevan Nair, for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive.
While they questioned the academic qualification of the writer to comment on an economic issue, a film director who came to the defence of the writer was asked to leave the country.
Pinarayi termed this as a manifestation of the Sangh Parivar’s intolerance to criticism finding its way in the state while inaugurating the school arts festival and warned that this will not work in a politically enlightened state like Kerala.
BJP leader from neighbouring Karnataka and Lok Sabha MP Nalin Kumar Kateel countered the Kerala leader by warning that the Central Government would intervene if BJP workers continued to be physically targeted in the state and the CPM may also face retaliation in other parts of the country as well.
"They (CPM) will come to know about the strength of the BJP in other parts of the country if they did not stop violence against the BJP workers in Kerala," Kateel said while addressing a meeting of the BJP Kerala state committee at Kottaym.
The murder in Kannur followed the death of two BJP workers in an attack on their house at Kanjikode in Palakkad district in the last week of December. Radhakrishnan (55) and his wife Vimala, both members of the BJP, were injured when a gas cylinder exploded after a group of CPM workers set fire to three bikes kept in a shed near the kitchen.
With these deaths, the number of people killed in political violence in the state since the assumption office by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has gone up to 11. The cycle of deaths started when a CPM worker was killed in a bomb attack on a CPM victory procession at Dharmadom on the votes counting day on 19 May.
Majority of the murders in the current bout of political violence has occurred at Dharmadom, from where Pinarayi was elected to the Assembly in 16 May election. The Sangh Parivar had expressed fear over the escalation of political violence in the district in the event of Vijayan becoming chief minister.
The Prime Minister had urged Pinarayi to take concrete steps to end the spectre of political violence in the state in his fist meeting after assuming office as the chief minister. Senior BJP leader say that Pinarayi had not taken any step to restore peace in Kannur because he believed in physical annihilation of political opponents.
The BJP Kannur district president pointed out that Pinarayi had made foray into active politics by murdering an RSS activist at Thalaserry in the district in 1969. The murder of Vadikkal Ramakrishnan is considered as the first political murder in the northern district.
Sathya Prakash said that the chief minister and his colleagues in the CPM believe that they can prevent the rise of alternate political forces by creating an atmosphere of terror. He sees such a clear pattern in the murder politics in Kannur.
“The murders in Kannur district clearly suggest a strategy by the CPM to prevent the growth of the BJP and RSS by physically eliminating its workers. Though they have not succeeded in achieving the objective even after killing many of our workers, the CPM is not ready to abandon the path of violence,” he added.
Sathya Prakash said that the party will face all challenges and emerge as a third alternative in the state. A senior leader of the party has sought imposition of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA) in Kannur to enable the political parties to carry out their democratic activities.
BJP state Intellectual Cell convener TG Mohandas has taken up the matter with Home Minister Rajnath Singh citing the high incidence of violence as well as the terrorist and fake currency rackets. He said that he made demand as the police officials had expressed their helplessness in restoring normalcy in the district.
“The police officials are helpless when the party in power is giving patronage to the perpetrators of the violence and its senior leaders are openly advocating the use of violent methods. The law and order has totally collapsed in the district,” he added.’
Meanwhile, the Central government has granted VIP security cover to four party leaders in the state considering the rise in the attacks on party workers and offices after the CPM-led government assumed office.
BJP State president Kummanam Rajasekharan, former State president PK Krishnadas, general secretaries MT Ramesh and K Surendran are the leaders who have been granted ‘Y’ category security by the Home Ministry.
Updated Date: Jan 19, 2017 13:51:16 IST