CPM leaders, cyberbullies hound wife of slain dissident leader; force her to plead for security at party headquarters

KK Rema, the widow of murdered Kerala dissident leader TP Chandrasekharan, has taken her fight for survival to Delhi, even as the Congress party is turning up the heat on the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM government in the southern state to rein in the ruling party's killer squads.

On Wednesday, Rema staged a sit-in before the AKG Bhavan, the headquarters of the party that rules Kerala and Tripura, seeking its central leadership’s intervention to protect her and workers of her tiny party with a substantial presence only in four villages in Kerala.

CPM flags. Reuters

CPM flags. Reuters

She sat on the road raising slogans as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who also holds the portfolio of home, kicked off his party’s Rs 10 crore state conference in Thrissur which will discuss, going by the statements of its leaders, everything under the sun except this.

The Congress party and its United Democratic Front (UDF) allies are in a protest mode since the killing of its young leader in Vijayan's Kannur district, Shuhaib Mohammed, late 12 February night at a wayside tea shop.

At least three leaders are on an indefinite hunger strike demanding an independent probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Police, who have arrested two of the five-member killer squad, have in their remand report confirmed the CPM’s leadership had sent them to finish off the young leader.

A week earlier, the CPM activists had gone on a rampage in the Onchiyam and Eramala villages where Rema's Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) has a considerable presence, attacking their homes and offices and burning their vehicles.

Rema believes some of the members of the killer squad that eliminated her husband who are on parole were behind this killing as well, going by the way they did it.

"There was a pattern in both. They blasted crude bombs to scare away witnesses before and after the killing and mutilated the body most savagely," Rema tells Firstpost. "Both were popular among the local communities and posed a threat to their hegemony."

Chandrasekharan was killed on the night of 4 May, 2012, three years after he fell out with the CPM and floated his own outfit, Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP), and won elections to Onchiyam panchayat or village council.

A gang of seven knocked down his bike, burst the crude bombs and killed the "renegade" inflicting 52 wounds using lances and other sharp weapons. Even after his death, Vijayan, then the CPM's all-powerful secretary in the state, said a renegade would always remain a renegade.

Shuhaib, whom the police had arrested for clashes with the CPM, and was out on bail a couple of weeks back, had suffered 41 wounds and was left to bleed to death in Edayannur village, some 40 km away from Onchiyam.

The Congress party said his growing popularity was the provocation for the CPM after he helped the party’s student outfit to win the local school elections. He was also involved in many charities and was readying to donate one of his kidneys to a poor man. They have many such stories to tell.

It was the tenth political killing in the district since Pinarayi Vijayan assumed office 21 months back and seven of them belonged to the non-CPM parties, mostly the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP killed three CPM men.

"In all the incidence of violence and the killings in the region, CPM is on either side," said Rema. "The cause of them is the intolerance of the CPM which would not allow others to work freely in their strongholds."

At her protest venue, she displayed several images of her party workers maimed in the alleged CPM attacks, mostly from stab wounds, and vandalised houses, offices and vehicles parked at home.

"They have left not even a single memorial of my husband untouched. Every time we repair them, the next day they would vandalise them," says Rema who has also petitioned the National Human Rights Commission seeking intervention.

"They won’t allow us to sleep peacefully at home and we don’t expect them to when they are in power. That’s why we are here," she said over the phone from New Delhi.

In 2014, the trial court sentenced 11, including three CPM leaders, to life imprisonment in the TP murder case. But Rema says they were having a good time in jail after the regime change, and one of them had a lavish wedding with local legislator AM Shamseer on the guest list without missing a photo opportunity.

"The CPM’s killing machine is back in full force. They are the most intolerant people who give sermons on tolerance. In jail or out of it, these killers enjoy all comforts. That’s why there’s no end to the targeted political killings in the state," she said. "The same gang was behind the latest killing."

Rema alleged that TK Rajeesh, one of the lifers who led the killer gang against Chandrasekharan, was out having a wellness treatment in an Ayurveda hospital in Kannur for 45 days and fellow gangster Kirmani Manoj was out on a 15-day parole planning and executing Shihab's killing.

P Mohanan, whom the court acquitted for want of clinching evidence, is now the party’s Kozhikode district secretary and PK Kunjananthan, the key conspirator who is undergoing a life term, continues on the area committee which he attends on parole.

"We have been at the receiving end for the past ten years since my husband rebelled against the fascist tendencies in the party," she said.

"Their intolerance only increased after his death, though everybody believed it would be the last political murder since the real killers were brought to book, instead of proxies who would easily escape the law in the absence of evidence against them," Rema said.

The government calls peace meetings after every killing, and political parties vow it would be the last. There were many such meetings in Kannur during the 21 months of CPM rule.

Now, what pains her most is the cyberbullying by the opponents, calling her all sorts of names.

"It’s an organised attack. They come out in hordes and write all sorts of things whenever I share our party’s activities on Facebook. They want to eliminate me too by all means," she said.
"What wrong have I done? I refused to resign myself to my fate and decided to bring my husband’s killers to book. I have been all along maintaining that the conspiracy was hatched the top level and that too should be investigated."

The previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government had issued a notification transferring the case to the CBI to look into a broader conspiracy, which it refused saying the state police could make further investigations.

Then she sent a representation to the prime minister, but to no avail. Last year, she moved the Kerala High Court seeking a direction to the CBI to this effect, citing that police had call data records of leaders and the killer gang, but they made no headway.

Last week, the state government informed the court that there was no need for a CBI probe into the same case in which the suspects were convicted.

"I will not give in to the hooligans on the street or the cyberbullies," Rema said.

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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2018 20:31:39 IST

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