The murders have once again underscored the growing influence of communal politics in the Left ruled state.
New Delhi: The killing of a Popular Front of India (PFI) activist and the retaliatory murder of one Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker within 24 hours in Palakkad in north Kerala last week have once again underscored the growing influence of communal politics in the Left ruled state. Last December, the same pattern of killings by PFI and RSS were enacted in Alappuzha in central Kerala and the police are yet to arrest all the culprits involved in the heinous crime.
The latest murders will have its ramifications elsewhere in the country, especially in BJP ruled states, where the minority community is already under attack on various fronts. Palakkad is one district where the RSS has considerable influence and is capable of unleashing violence.
The murders have once again pushed the Left Front government back to the wall as the CPM’s track record on the issue of perpetuating violence against political rivals is not too praiseworthy. That the killings have taken place in the month of Ramadan have added to the woes of the Muslim community, majority of which has nothing to do with PFI.
On Friday afternoon last week, the PFI’s area president A Subair was hacked to death outside a mosque. According to the police, Subair and his father were on a motorcycle when car bound assailants first knocked him down and then hacked him to death. Next day on Saturday afternoon, S.K. Sreenivasan, a former office-bearer of the RSS and owner of a shop dealing in old tyres, was attacked inside his shop by five men. He too was hacked to death. CCTV footage showed the sword-wielding men reaching the shop in the busy market area on three motorcycles.
Both Subair and Sreenivasan were in their forties. While Subair has two adolescent sons, Sreenivasan’s daughter is just 10 years old. While both PFI and the RSS-BJP combine have blamed each other, the ruling CPM has alleged a conspiracy by the two to foment communal hatred in the state.
But the fact of the matter is that both PFI and the RSS are capable of unleashing attacks against each other in the state freely. Otherwise how can such a murder happen under the very nose of the police force which was on alert about a possible retaliatory murder, both in the case of Alappuzha and Palakkad.
Despite all the tall promises from the Left Front government, which is on a second term in office, its police have till date failed to bring the murderers and their masterminds to book. Even if some of the culprits are identified and arrested, there has been no effort on the part of the police force or the government to pursue the matter and take it to the final conclusion by zeroing in on the conspirators. That never happens, irrespective of who or which party is in power.
Moreover, there have been reports that both PFI and RSS have “infiltrated” the state police force. A senior leader of the CPI, one of the constituents of the ruling Left Front, Annie Raja had, sometime back, made the accusation that a section of the Kerala Police acts as per the diktats of the RSS. Senior partner CPM had vehemently denied this since the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is in charge of the police as Home Minister.
In the past six years of Left rule, the working of the police department has been the worst in Kerala. The number of custodial deaths is the highest in this period, so also the number of encounter killings. Despite repeated demands from the opposition, the chief minister had refused to hand over the ministry to another colleague as was the case when party veteran V.S.Achuthanandan was the chief minister during 2006-11 period. The current state CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was in charge of Home then and he had handled the department quite efficiently. What the state needs right now is a full time home minister, not someone who is saddled with half a dozen portfolios.
When it comes to murders in the name of politics, CPM is in a disadvantageous position as its workers have been party to a majority of killings that have taken place in the state. The party’s condemnation of the act is not taken seriously by the people as the state government itself is party in defending many of its party workers who are accused of murder accused in the state. This is very much evident in the case of the killings of two Youth Congress workers, Kripesh and Sharath Lal in nearby Kasaragod district in 2019. The state government is still fighting in various courts in defence of the accused, all known CPM workers of the area.
Even as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who also holds the home portfolio, took a good 24 hours to react to the murders (this is not the case if one of the victims is a CPM member), the BJP has called for central intervention to stop future killings. The party also chose to walk out of an all-party meeting called at the Collector’s office in Palakkad terming it a ‘farce’. The party’s state secretary C Krishnakumar told reporters that three of their activists–RSS worker Sanjith, Yuva Morcha leader Arun and now Sreenivasan, a former sharik shiksha pramukh–were killed in the district during the last six months. But the district administration has not thought of calling an all party-meeting earlier. In addition to it, the state government had opposed a CBI probe into the killing of Sanjith in the High Court on a petition by his widow.
But deputing a minister belonging to one of the minor partners of the Left Front to the all-party meeting, even though he is in charge of the district, has raised questions about the seriousness of the government to bring peace in the district. As it is, Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty of the Janata Dal (S) is facing major protests in the electricity department spearheaded by the CITU, the trade union wing of the CPM. Going by the past experience, the buzz about the present murders will subside in a week’s time and things will be back as usual till another bout of “isolated” killings happens. Then the authorities and politicians will wake up again. Till such time, Kerala is waiting.