Philosophy of violent politics overwhelms the rival political groups in Kerala

Elites may debate the root cause of these murders, but the effect on the masses is polarisation this way or that way. It also means damaging the sense of Indianness so close to our hearts and souls, who love to live together in spite of vast differences in faiths and political wisdom. We will have to rise above political considerations and stand up for our unity and the culture of harmony, suggests Syyed Mansoor Agha

Adding one more conviction of RSS-related activists to the politically motivated murder case in Kerala, on November 14, a court in town Neyyattinkara sentenced 11 men to rigorous life imprisonment in a brutal murder case of 2013. The court found the accused man guilty of murdering an aged man, Narayanan Nair, in the town of Anavoor, District Thiruvananthapuram.

Including Anil (32), a Sangh Pracharak, and Vellamkolli Rajesh (47), a State Secretary of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) Employees Union affiliated with Sangh, all convicts are identified as RSS workers. Others are named Prem Kumar (36), Prasad Kumar (35), Girish Kumar (41), Arun Kumar alias Anthappan (36), Baiju (42), Sajikumar (43), Ajayan alias Unni (33), Binu (43) and Girish alias Anikuttan (48).

Considering their mature age, the crime looks a well-thought-out incident. All look like hardcore followers of the violent political philosophy, which took Gandhi Ji’s life in 1948. Now his murderer is being praised and projected as a “hero”.

When they were brought to the courtroom for an identification parade, all were dressed in identical clothes. All were sporting the same hairstyles. Those with bald heads were provided with similar hair wigs in jail. This was done to confuse the witnesses. The arrangement showed that they belonged to an organised outfit, with resources to provide assistance of all types in the jail in an administrative system run by a rival political party.

The Additional Sessions Judge Kavitha Gangadharan, who pronounced the verdict, also imposed a fine of `one lakh each on three of the accused. According to the prosecution, a gang of armed men barged into the victim’s house on November 5, 2013, with the intention to target Nair’s son Siva Prasad. Obviously, their motive was to revenge a previous political skirmish between the rival groups belonging to BJP and CPM. Shiva, a college student was the area secretary of SFI, the student wing of the ruling party CPM. He, his brother, and his mother were also injured in the attack. Nair’s only fault was that he came to rescue his son. As police reported, Nair was hacked to death with sticks and rods in front of his wife and two sons.

This bloody encounter between political rivals and murdering the opponent is not an exception in the most educated state of the country. On December 18-19 last year, a State Secretary of the SDPI and the State Secretary of the BJP OBC Morcha were murdered within 12 hours of each other. The murders were dubbed ‘retaliatory killings’.

Earlier in 2016, an identical case had earned headlines when 13 RSS workers were sentenced to double life imprisonment for the murder a young man. The victim Vishnu, a CPM worker, was hacked to death at Kaithamukku on April 1, 2008. On December 15, 2016, an Additional Sessions Court of Thiruvananthapuram convicted 13 accused to double life imprisonment. However, citing some lacunas in the proceedings, a bench of HC acquitted them in July 2022.

However, the judges have strongly lamented the prevalence of political murders in the state and said: “Political rivalry is a simmering cauldron of intrigue, spite, and deceit, often spewing out the venom of hatred, in the form of mindless bloodshed. The men in red and those saffron-clad, are divided on political lines and the instant case is alleged to be the murder of one among the former, by a few in the latter group.”

They further said, “The sad saga of political rivalry and mindless killing, as we have noticed in many cases, tears under the social fabric of the State.”

A calculation of available data of victims shows ‘in the last 20 years, 86 CPIM workers, 68 RSS or BJP workers, 11 workers of Congress and IUML each and 2 of SDP had been killed – mostly by their political rivals.’

In 2021 at least five political murders were reported in the same state. A count of the last decade shows over 40 such killings. In Kannur district alone, between 2000 and 2016, 69 political murders were reported, with RSS losing almost as many workers as CPM, according to The Hindustan Times. The difference of 86 murders of CPM workers in comparison to 68 victims of the saffron side, shows the difference in how Sangh affiliates are ahead of the reds.

Elites may debate the root cause of these murders, but the effect on the masses is polarisation this way or that way. It also means damaging the sense of Indianness so close to our hearts and souls, who love to live together in spite of vast differences in faiths and political wisdom. We will have to rise above political considerations and stand up for our unity and the culture of harmony. 

A political commentator BRP Bhaskar has commented: “Kerala, which has a long history of internecine killings by cadres of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the RSS, is witnessing an intensification of the feud, driven by a newly-garnered sense of power.”

Pointing to the violent nature of the Sangh Parivar, he further elaborated: “The acts of violence involving Sangh Parivar associates reported from different parts of the country reveals a common modus operandi. Parivar associates foment trouble over particular issues, like beef eating, for instance. The police merely look on, or they move in and protect the miscreants instead of the victims. The PM Modi and his sidetrack UHM Amit Shah, keep mum, but lower-level functionaries endorse the work of the mischief makers.” (The Print)

Events of honouring convicts of lynching, releasing prisoners accused of gang-rape and mass killings, giving protection to communal violence mongers, and giving tickets to tainted persons or their close family members, etc. all smack of what Bhaskar inferred.

[The writer is Chairman of Forum for Civil Rights, email: [email protected]]

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