By K.A. Antony
With one more killing on February 15, the political situation in the Communist heartland of Kannur in North Kerala has become all the more vitiated. Though the police claim that everything is under control, incidents of attacks on houses and party offices are being reported from different parts of the district. What worries the peace-loving people of Kannur is that the murder of Sujith, a 27-year-old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) worker at Aroli in the district, has also derailed the proposed political dialogue between the RSS and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leadership on bringing peace to the trouble-torn region by ending political killings.
Sujith was attacked by a group of men, most of them owing allegiance to the CPI-M on February 15. His father Janardhnan and mother Sulochana also suffered injuries while trying to protect their son. According to Janardhnan, Sujith had been facing threats from the local CPI-M activists ever since he left the Democratic Youth Front of India(DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI-M.
While the CPI-M and the police dismiss the killing of Sujith as the outcome of a quarrel related to an incident of eve-teasing, the BJP-RSS leaders paint it as retaliation for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arraigning CPI-M Kannur district secretary P. Jayarajan as an accused in the Kathiroor Manoj murder case. Kathiroor Manoj, an RSS district functionary was hacked to death on November 1, 2014. Incidentally Manoj was awarded life imprisonment in a case relating to a murder attempt on Jayarajan in 1999.
Jayarajan, who was denied anticipatory bail, is undergoing treatment at Kozhikode Medical College hospital and is expected to be arrested by the CBI soon.
With the CPI-M alleging a conspiracy hatched by the RSS to implicate P. Jayarajan in the Manoj murder case, the party cadres have become restless. The BJP-RSS is also bent on deriving political mileage out of the situation as the Kerala Assembly elections are round the corner.
BJP national council member P.K. Krishnadas said the killing of Sujith was in retaliation for the CBI case against Jayarajan. “The CPI-M should be banned as it has degenerated into a party of murderers. When the RSS expressed willingness for a dialogue to end the politics of murder, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s response was that the RSS should put down weapons first. Sujith’s murder has made it clear that the CPI-M is not ready to lay down the dagger,” he said.
CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said his party has no role in the murder of Sujith. “The murder was the outcome of some personal rivalry. The BJP-RSS is trying to gain political mileage just because some CPI-M sympathisers were arrested in connection with the murder,” he said.
Sreenivasan, a Congress worker from Pappinisseri said though there was no politics behind the murder, those arrested for the murder, are from CPI-M families. “However, the party has disassociated itself from those involved in the murder fearing backlash,” he said.
District Superintendent of Police Harisankar also ruled out any political motive behind the killing. “Still we are keeping a tight vigil to avoid any untoward incidents,” he said. According to figures available from the Crime Records Bureau, Sujith happens to be the 41st victim of political rivalry and bloodshed in the politically volatile Kannur over the last decade. Before him, 19 CPI-M and 17 BJP-RSS workers were killed. Two National Development Front (NDF) and three Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) activists also lost their lives during this period.
Sujith is not the first man to pay with his blood for political conviction. History shows that Kannur was the land of warriors, practitioners of Malabar’s martial art, Kalaripayattu. They lived and died for battles. Centuries later, people still continue to fight and die in political battles.
For a district like Kannur that has witnessed around 170 political killings and over 2,000 political clashes in the past three decades, bloodletting is not a new experience; it has been, and is, a way of life. The CPI-M and the Sangh Parivar have been vying with each other to build their own pocket boroughs through pitched battles that of late have assumed the proportions of ancient clan wars. The running battles between the Reds and their foes date back to pre-independence days when the undivided Communist party started fighting the Congress for survival. The Reds fought and won many battles and by the end of the 1950s, became a force to reckon with.
The Communists did not stop there. Their next enemy became the RSS, which slowly infiltrated into the CPI-M villages. A close study of the CPI-M operations in the district reveals that the party has never allowed any other political party to make inroads into its bastions. Some of the areas like Thalassery, Panoor and Koothuparamba have turned into killing fields.
The most notorious killing that took place in the district was that of K.T. Jayakrishnan, a Bharatiya Jana Yuva Morcha leader who was hacked to death before the eyes of his students inside a classroom at East Mokeri near Panoor in 2000. His murder was in retaliation for the murder attempt on P Jayarajan, who was almost killed in 1999.