Ramith and Mohanan’s families are among many others who bear the burden of a political battle that has been waging for years.

Murder of a beloved comrade and a revenge killing The turbulent village of Pinarayi
news Politics Saturday, October 15, 2016 - 21:22

Pinarayi is a quaint village eight kilometres from Thalassery town in northern Kerala. 

A red board at the entrance of the village reads, “This is a communist village. If pointing fingers at injustice and violence is termed insolence, then we are a group of insolent people.”

There is an eerie calm in this town dotted with buildings in the name of late communist leaders.

Two political killings took place in Pinarayi in just three days, a place from where the current Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan hails. The first murder was of K Mohanan, a staunch communist and a local CPI (M) leader. The next to be murdered was Ramith, a BJP sympathiser.

A beloved comrade

On 10th October, around 9.30 am, fifty-two-year old Mohanan, the CPI (M) local branch secretary and a worker at a toddy shop in Paduvilayil near Koothuparamba was hacked to death.

The CPI (M) blamed the RSS and BJP for the brutal murder. Three RSS/BJP members were arrested by the police on Friday. 

Mohanan had reached the toddy shop around 9 am after buying chicken to prepare dishes. The attack was unexpected. Around six masked men rushed into the shop and hacked him. His friend Asokan, who tried to stop the attack, was also seriously injured. Mohanan succumbed to his injuries, as he was being rushed to the Thalassery Cooperative hospital.

Toddy shop where Mohanan worked and was killed

Mohanan was a respected figure in the locality, a man with no known violent past, neither his family nor the party knows why he was killed.

His house is still crowded, neighbours and people from other villages gathered around, still under shock that a non-controversial comrade was targeted.

Lying on a bed, refusing to take food or water was Mohanan’s wife Suchithra. “He had friends in all political parties, he helped everyone. He was not involved in any cases; there was not even a petty case against him. He always spoke against political violence. I don’t know why he was killed,” she tells me.

Mohanan's grave

A few local workers of the Congress party present at the house echoed her sentiments. They said Mohanan was a ‘real communist’, who walked bare foot and wore simple clothes. “He had many friends in the BJP too, even they used to approach him on local issues,” says a Congressman.

Mohanan’s 20-year-old son Mithun, pointed to a house just opposite theirs and said, “Tomorrow is my neighbor Fathima’s marriage. They did not have sufficient money and my father had helped them. He arranged for a loan from a cooperative bank. After his death they decided to postpone the marriage, but we didn’t allow as he would not have liked it.”


Another neighbour Kumaran spoke of Mohanan fondly. “I used to go to his toddy shop regularly. He never allowed me to spend all my money on alcohol. He forcefully made me give him Rs 100 every time I went. Initially I was angry thinking he was just a partyman taking hafta. But at the end of the year, there was almost Rs 25000 deposited in my wife’s bank account. He was saving it for my family,” Kumaran says with tears in his eyes. 

The men who fled

The CPI (M) was enraged over Mohanan’s death and many comrades wanted to take revenge. Blood for blood.

“A day before Mohanan’s death almost all of the BJP/RSS sympathisers in the area left Pinarayi. None of them were at home. After the incident we tried to contact them over phone to ask why they targeted him, no number was available. They are not back even now. You cannot find a single BJP sympathiser in Pinarayi,” says Manoj KM, a local CPI (M) leader and an officer in the Pinarayi cooperative bank.

Another murder for no reason

Two days after Mohanan’s death, around 10 am, twenty-nine-year old Ramith Kollanadi was hacked to death near his house in Pinarayi.

Ramith’s family is heartbroken and says he was killed even though he was not a BJP worker. The BJP however insists he was a party member, while few others in the village say he was just a sympathiser.

“He was not a party worker; he was not in the BJP. He had gone to buy medicines for his sister. Please don’t ask me more. My son is gone and no one can do about it now,” Narayani, Ramith’s mother wept.

Few close relatives were gathered at Ramith’s house, and no one else. “He was not involved in anything. The CPI (M) wanted revenge and they could not find anyone else to kill. Since Ramith was not involved in Mohanan’s killing, he had fearlessly stayed back. He had not fled and paid the price for it,” Ramith’s aunt Geetha said.

Ramith’s family says many in the neighbourhood had not even attended his funeral as they were enraged over Mohanan’s death.

Ramith's house

Ramith had come back from Dubai only a few years ago to live with his mother. His was the second life that this family had lost to Kannur’s political violence. Ramith’s father Uthaman, an RSS worker, was allegedly murdered by CPI (M) workers in 2002.

Though not directly, the local CPI (M) unit hints that comrades were behind Ramith’s murder.

“There was no provocation, Pinarayi was calm and peaceful. After May 2016 election, they (BJP/RSS) killed a comrade named Raveendran, we kept quiet. Mohanan was the party’s soul in Pinarayi, such a beloved leader. So may be comrades lost their control, but it was not a planned murder. The party did not plan it,” says K Balan, Pinarayi area committee secretary of CPI (M).

The BJP leadership however staunchly denies it had anything to do with Mohanan’s murder. Kannur BJP President P Sathyaprakash told The News Minute that Ramith’s murder was not a revenge killing, but an unrelated case of political bloodbath.

“Ramith was not an accused in Mohanan murder, then how can it be a revenge killing? He was a BJP worker, that’s all. When we didn’t kill Mohanan, why should CPI (M) take revenge on us?” he said.  

The scars of a meaningless political battle

Ramith and Mohanan’s families are among many others who bear the burden of a political battle that has been waging for years. More than 250 people have been estimated to be killed in this battle largely between the CPI (M) on one side, and a constantly changing adversary.  Praja Socialist Party, Muslim League, Congress, BJP/RSS and the Left have all lost their party members to the mindless violence.

A poster that says that the RSS had killed a man who had not even harmed an ant, let's protest. 

Comprising mainly of Thiyyas and Muslims, Kannur is a valuable vote bank for the BJP and Left. The bitter rivalry that started more than five decades ago took a violent turn in 1968 when an RSS worker named Vadikkal Ramakrishnan was killed.

There has been no reprieve since then and with every passing year; the parties are only sharpening their attacks. Rebels are silenced, killers are given political refuge and families of victims are literally adopted by parties; the pattern never changes.

There are many in the district who loathe the violence and they hope that the Chief Minister will make law and order his priority, and let Kannur be.

Also read-  The Kannur Model: CM Vijayan’s responsibility and the CPI(M)’s history of violence

(Edited by Dhanya Rajendran)

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