Six-year-old Vijay* stood in the porch of his house and pointed at his knees, saying that’s where he got injured. He bravely adds that he never cried, and the compliments are well-deserved, for he did see five people brutally attacking 'Bijuettan', the auto driver who regularly drops him to the nearby school.
Vijay is perhaps the bravest of the lot and could give a detailed account to the police on how 32-year old EK Biju, an RSS functionary in Kerala’s Kannur district, was hacked by a group of strangers.
His friend and neighbour five-year-old Mahesh* is however still in shock. Mahesh’s mother tells us that the boy is very reluctant to speak about what happened on that fateful day: “The only thing he told us was that he got very scared that day and now he never ever wants to get into an auto again.”
On Tuesday morning, five school children from a small village around 10 kms from Chokli got into the auto-rickshaw that would take them to the Excel school just a few kilometers away.
As the auto reached an almost deserted part of Chokli town, five people with sickles and other weapons waylaid the auto. They started hacking Biju and in the ensuing struggle, the auto toppled over with the frightened kids still inside.
“It is only because the auto toppled that the attackers could not kill Biju. It is not easy to hack someone in that position. The attackers could hence only manage to stab him thrice and that too on the shoulders and once in the stomach. When the auto toppled, the kids started screaming, as they were bruised. On hearing the cries, people began rushing to the area, while the attackers fled,” says Baiju, sub-inspector of the Chokli police station.
The little girl who was in the auto bore the worst brunt as the blood from Biju’s hacked torso splashed onto her. Her mother says that she is yet to recover from the shock and is unwilling to even come out of the house.
Courtesy: Janam TV
Chokli is a small town bordering the Mahe district from where liquor freely flows into it. A CPI(M) stronghold, Chokli is a known political hotbed in Kerala. Like elsewhere in Kannur, political violence is a regular occurrence here.
Biju himself was once an accused in the 1999 murder case of CPI(M) activist Kanakarajan but the court later acquitted him. The police are however unwilling at this juncture to see it as a mere case of retaliation. They reportedly suspect the involvement of a gang of five CPI(M) members, but no arrests have been made so far.
The norm here seems to be capture of political opponents by the Left and the RSS -who have been traditional rivals in the state- and taking them to secluded areas. While most are killed, others are grievously injured.
In this prevailing atmosphere of political violence, it is a given that the enemy will swoop in at your most vulnerable moment. But what kind of perverse politics allows someone to take on an opponent in front of innocent children who have now been left traumatized by witnessing such inhuman cruelty?
This is not the first time that poiltical cadres have behaved in such macabre fashion. In December 1999 too, a gang of Left sympathisers had barged into a classroom and hacked KT Jayakrishnan Master -a young BJP leader- to death at Mokeri in Kannur- in front of his students.
All this in the name of politics and social equality!
* Names changed