Politics and violence bear an inextricable link in Kerala, particularly when it comes to the struggle being waged between the CPI (M) and the RSS and the BJP. As the parties come together to broker peace and make lip service to bring to an end the violence between left and right wing activists, police statistics show that political murders have held as a norm in the state, with over 170 killings in the last 17 years.
According to police records accessed by Sneha Mary Koshy of NDTV, 172 political murders have occurred since 2000. Of these, the RSS and the BJP have together lost 65 party workers, while 85 of the CPI (M)’s workers have been killed. 11 activists each of the Congress and the IUML have also been killed in this period.
From February 2016 to July 2017, 10 RSS or BJP workers, and four CPI (M) workers have been murdered, allegedly for their political affiliations.
Though police records show that the CPI (M), DYFI, BJP and RSS cadres have been accused of most number of murders, other parties too have targeted their rivals.
For example, SDPI members were accused of murdering Nazirudeen, an IUML man from Kuttiyadi in July 2016.
While political murders take place across Kerala, the northern district of Kannur remains the core arena of political violence in the state.
According to RTI information received from the police by 101reporters.com, 69 political murders were committed between 2000 and 2016. Among these, a roughly equal number of workers from the CPI (M) and the RSS-BJP were killed – 30 from the former and 31 from the latter.
The data shows that the number of killings on both sides rose higher during LDF regimes, and fell during UDF rule in the state. In 2000, for instance, when the LDF was in power, Kannur recorded nine deaths in a single year. In 2008, again under LDF rule, 12 persons were killed, with five workers each from the CPI (M) and the RSS-BJP being killed.
According to NCRB data, while Kannur contributed to 50% of political murders in the state during the two LDF terms between 2000 and 2016, it accounted for 20-30% of the political murders committed during the UDF regimes in this period. Overall, Kannur contributed to 36% of all political murders in Kerala between 2000 and 2015.
While the political rhetoric raised by CPI (M) and the RSS-BJP constantly seeks to pin the blame on one side over the other, the pattern of deaths is relatively equally distributed across both. While a straight comparison between only these two parties seems to suggest that more CPI (M) workers have been killed versus RSS-BJP workers, it is also important to take account of the rivalries between the CPI (M) and the Congress and IUML.