Even as BJP’s Janaraksha Yatra, a mission to highlight the ongoing murder of party and RSS workers in Kerala by the ruling CPM, wound its way to Putharikkandam Maidan, the summit venue in state capital Thiruvananthapuram, the CBI and the Central government told the High Court in Kochi that they had no objection in taking over the investigation into the murders. This is seen by the state BJP as a moral victory for the yatra led by state president Kummanam Rajasekharan and flagged off by national president Amit Shah, a fortnight ago from Payyannur in Kannur district, north Kerala, where the majority of murders took place at regular intervals. The Left Front government, and CPM in particular, is wary against a CBI inquiry, since they allege that the organisation which sings to the tune of ruling dispensations. Instead, it had been insisting on a probe conducted by the state intelligence wing. However, after hearing out the CBI, the High Court has directed the state government to spell out its stand on such a probe by the Central agency. The state government has time till 25 October to file a counter affidavit, before the court takes up the petition for continued hearing on 30 October. 

Through the fortnight-long yatra through 11 districts of Kerala, the BJP had succeeded in bringing the issue of political murders in this southern state to the centre stage of national politics. This had led to a non-stop verbal duel between the two parties, which is still continuing, both reeling out statistics regarding “martyrs” and “balidanis”. It had its fallout in the national capital too, with both BJP and CPM taking out protest marches to each others’ party offices in New Delhi. In Kerala, while at the concluding rally, Amit Shah asked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan “whether he will take moral responsibility for those killings”, since most of the murders had taken place in his home district of Kannur, the Chief Minister has accused BJP and RSS of carrying out a “malicious campaign” to tarnish the image of the state. The fact remains that killing out of political vendetta has become a norm in the state, be it from the Right which vows to fight Red terror, or the Left which raises the bogey of fascism. Meanwhile, the people of the northern district are caught in between these two parties professing diametrically opposite ideologies fighting for political supremacy in the state.

It is in the light of this that a petition was filed by an organisation based in Thalasserry, another hotbed of Left-Right violence, seeking the court’s direction to the CBI to conduct inquiry into seven distinct cases of “political killings” that happened after the LDF came to power in the state in May last year. The petitioner, Gopalan Adiyodi Vakkeel Smaraka Trust secretary, R.K. Premadas, has alleged that in all these cases, known workers of a major outfit, part of the ruling front, have been named as accused. It also noted that in some cases, the party activists involved were from Dharmadam in Kannur, the constituency of Chief Minister Vijayan, who also holds the home portfolio. “In all these cases, facts and circumstances clearly indicate high-level political conspiracy in planned execution of the killings and efforts to save the real culprits,” the petitioner said it the submission before the court. He also said the police did not properly investigate the conspiracy angle in these cases: “Moreover, in each of these cases, deliberate attempts to derail the investigation at the instance of the ruling party with the intention to save the culprits are evident.” It is on the basis of this that the bench of High Court Chief Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh and Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan directed the state government to file its affidavit by 25 October.

CPM has challenged the very veracity of the Trust in filing such a petition, accusing it of an umbrella organisation of the Sangh Parivar. The Trust, according to CPM leaders, indulges in armed training of the RSS cadre. Though not much is known about the antecedents of the Trust, it has indeed raised the relevant issue that there is always a spurt in political killings whenever Left Front comes to power. Perhaps it is this realisation that prompted CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, despite aggressive postures most of the time, to say that henceforth the party would desist from political killings. If this promise holds over time, as BJP Malayalam mouthpiece Janmabhumi observed, it will be recorded as a major “turning point in the history of state politics, pre and post Yatra”.

The list submitted by petitioner Premdas has mainly referred to the killings of RSS worker Remith at Pinarayi, Kannur on 12 October, the deaths of BJP leader Santhosh Kumar of Andallur in Kannur on 18 January, BJP leader C.K. Ramachandran of Payyannur in Kannur on 12 July, RSS activist Biju on 12 May at Palakkod in Kannur, and that of BJP worker Vimala and Sri Radhakrishnan at Kanjikode in Palakkad on 28 December. 

It has also mentioned the murders of BJP worker Raveendran Pillai at Kadakkal in Kollam on 2 February and RSS leader Rajesh near Sreekaryam in Thiruvananthapuram on 29 July.

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