Well known writer Karassery said that a mob raising slogans in support of the MLA attacked the activists.



New Delhi: As practically the whole of Kerala is glued to the unravelling of a chilling serial killer story, all other happenings in the state are pushed to the background. Though campaign for the five Assembly bypolls spread over one end of the state to the other—from Kasaragod in the north to Thiruvananthapuram in the south—is on its last leg, people are keen on discussing the murder rather than politics or any other subject affecting the state. It was no wonder then that the roughing up of a group of environmentalists and activists, allegedly by CPM supporters, in Kozhikode district early this week went largely unnoticed both by the media and the general public. The 46-member team, comprising well known writer M.N. Karassery, one-time firebrand Naxalite and now social activist, K. Ajitha, environmentalists such as C.R. Neelakandan and Kusumam Joseph, was on its way to a water theme park owned by a ruling Left Front MLA to assess the alleged ecological violation in the region.

The controversial water theme park is situated nearly 3,000 feet above sea level at an ecologically sensitive area of the Western Ghats in Kakkadampoyil village near Nilambur in Malappuram district, which is prone to landslides. A group of people blocked, manhandled and forced the team to back out while the activists visited a quarry functioning near the water theme park owned by CPM-supported independent MLA from Nilambur, P.V. Anwar. According to local reports, the goons allegedly snatched the mobile phones of the activists and deleted the visuals taken by them, before forcing them to return. Karassery later said that a mob raising slogans in support of the MLA attacked the activists, even manhandling Prof Kusumam Joseph. The police have registered a case against around 100 “identifiable” people in the region. The activists have identified the secretary of the CPM local committee as the leader of the mob that attacked them.

The green activists have been campaigning against the park, which was constructed flouting all environmental rules, for a long time. They have been complaining that several illegal constructions and check dams attached to the park are posing serious environment threats. The 2018 deluge that devastated the state had considerably damaged the adjoin areas of the dam. There had been landslides in the area during the monsoon this August too. The Kerala High Court had recently ordered the demolition of a check dam illegally constructed inside the theme park. However, activists point out that the case of only one check dam had come up before the High Court. There were encroachments, illegal check dams, diversion of the rivulet, quarrying and construction in a river, blocking its natural course in the region, activists say. In the floods this August, Kavalappara in Nilambur witnessed the deadliest landslide in the state, with almost a village wiped out, claiming at least 59 lives. Thirteen are still missing. A total of 11 landslides had taken place in less than week in Malappuram district alone.

That a person like Anwar, who had thrown all norms to the winds, gets protection from the ruling class is significant. His case is also a pointer to the changing face of CPM in the state. From the guardian of the working class to the watchdog of industrialists, the transformation of CPM in Kerala is phenomenal. Someone who started his political career in the Congress and now has become the darling of CPM, P.V. Anwar is just one of the beneficiaries of this transformation that has happened in Kerala politics in the last two decades. It is interesting to note that back in 2004 when the Muslim League put up businessman, social worker P.V. Abdul Wahab for a Rajya Sabha seat, the then Opposition leader, veteran V.S. Achuthanandan and the then CPM state secretary and current Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had opposed the move tooth and nail. The Left Front then unsuccessfully moved the Election Commission against Wahab, prompting the CPM Nilambur committee to launch a fund collection drive to move the High Court. That Wahab is now a Rajya Sabha member is another story.

But the real story is that the very same Nilambur CPM committee in 2016 had put up industrialist P.V. Anwar for the Assembly seat and is now stalking the streets, attacking environmentalists and activists, to defend his illegal constructions in the area. He was also put up by CPM in the last Lok Sabha elections from Ponnani in Malappuram. Anwar is not the only industrialist who is protected by the CPM. How CPM went all out to justify illegal encroachment of backwaters in Alappuzha in central Kerala by businessman Thomas alias “Kuwait” Chandy to build a five-star resort in still in the memory of the people of Kerala. It was with a “heavy heart” that Pinarayi Vijayan allowed Chandy, a member of the Nationalist Congress Party, to resign from his Cabinet. Chandy is reported to be waiting in the wings to be re-inducted into the Cabinet anytime now. Added to CPM’s favourite industrialists’ list is the new entrant to the Assembly, the newly elected MLA from the Pala constituency, Mani C. Kappen. He is into the “business of films and agriculture” as per his affidavit to EC. He apparently owns estates in the northeastern state of Meghalaya. Besides Anwars, Chandys and Kappens, there is an array of industrialists at the beck and call of the present CPM leadership, be it clearing bad debts of party secretary’s sons or providing them with top positions in their organisations. No wonder Achuthanandan’s letter to Pinarayi Vijayan seeking action against Anwar and his business interests go unanswered.

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