Never ending saga of political murders in Kerala

Deccan Chronicle.

Nation, Politics

As per a rough estimate, over 200 political workers have been killed in Kerala since 2000

The Kerala Assembly

The brutal killings of two activists of the CPM led youth wing DYFI allegedly by Congress workers in Venjaramoodu in Thiruvananthapuram district was the latest incident in the bloody saga of murder politics being witnessed in Kerala for over seven  decades.

According to rough estimates, over 200 persons belonging to different parties have become victims of killer politics in Kerala since 2000.  Though the frequency of political murders have come down compared to previous years, these brutal killings after a lull often reminds one that the savagery has not ended yet.

Soon after coming to power in 2016, Chief Minister Mr Pinarayi Vjayan had taken personal initiative in convening a meeting of top CPM and RSS-BJP leaders to end the bloody violence in Kannur district which accounts for almost 50 per cent of the political murders in Kerala so far.  Almost its become a ritual that after every political murder there are a few arrests, allegations and counter allegations by rival parties, sporadic incidents of violence and at the end an all party peace meeting. But the "no violence" warranty period often expires within months or at the most after a year, only to be followed by another round of brutal killings.

The ruling Left Democratic Front convenor Mr A Vijayaraghavan  says the Congress and BJP  have always portrayed CPM as a “killer” party. But the truth is otherwise. “In Kerala most Congress leaders have criminal gangs which they nurture and use against political opponents. There are gang wars even in groups within the Congress. Three Congress workers were brutally murdered in 2013 and 2015 by rival groups within the party in Thrissur district. But the Congress always tries to portray itself as messiahs of peace,” he told DC.

The Congress on the other hand points out that in most political murders CPM is always found on one side. What does this mean ?  asks Kerala’s firebrand PCC vice president and MLA V D Satheeshan.

“The twin murders in Venjaramoodu in Thiruvananthapuram district was the result of a gang war. A similar murder took place Alapuzha in August. Soon CPM leaders accused the Congress of killing their worker. But their own minister G Sudhakaran  clarified it was not a political murder,” he said.

Mr Satheeshan alleged CPM tried to stall CBI inquiry into the murder of two youth Congress workers in Kasargod in 2019. The High Court rejected their plea and handed over the probe to CBI on August 25. “The LDF government engaged top lawyers from the Supreme Court to block the CBI probe," he said.

On the other side of the political divide, the CPM –RSS/BJP have been engaged in a bloody battle in Marxist bastion of Kannur for the past seven decades. In March 2017 the RSS organized protest meetings across the country targeting Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and accusing him of being the mastermind of political murders. The chief minister faced angry protests in Delhi, Hyderabad,Mangalore, Bhopal. During one of these protests, RSS pramukh of Ujjain Dr Kundan Chandravat  even offered a bounty of Rs 1 crore to anyone who beheaded Pinarayi Vijayan.Chandravat was later removed from the organisation.

In October 2017 the then BJP national president Amit Shah came down to Kerala and led a protest march against CPM in Thiruvananthapuram.

Notwithstanding the allegations against CPM, the facts on the ground indicate that the Marxists are also at the receiving end of political violence. The CPM has lost more workers in violence compared to other parties. According to police records, of the 172 murders that took place in Kerala between 2000 and 2016 period, 85 CPM workers and  65 RSS/BJP workers lost their lives. Eleven workers each of the Congress and the Muslim League also became victims of political violence in the state.

With the crucial Assembly elections in the state scheduled to be held in April-May 2021, political observers fear that political violence might escalate. “Congress is afraid that the CPM government might continue after 2021 polls. Moreover the Congress led front UDF is in a shambles. One of the factions of Kerala Congress is on the verge of leaving the front. We fear that in desperation the Congress might create law and order problems,” said LDF Covenor Vijayaraghavan.

The Congress on the other hand has accused the CPM of unleashing violence and false allegations against the opposition. “They are desperate  to divert people's attention from the grave allegations that the government is facing in the gold smuggling case, corruption in Life mission flats, bribe in Bevco liquor online sale app and failure in other fronts,” said Satheeshan.

Notwithstanding the allegations and counter allegations, leaders of both CPM and Congress are on the same page at least in declaring that “we are for peace and tranquility” in Kerala. But the big question is will they walk the talk ?

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