One wonders if we are to believe that enlightened Kerala is not going to be free of the politics of ruthless murders, despite all-party meetings for restoration of peace, signing of 'cease-fire' agreements between parties, and even if protest hartals become routine repeated over and over despite ban by courts, or leaders giving assurances after assurances. That is what any Keralite waking up to hear the brutal murder of two Congress workers – Kripesh and Shara Lal - in Periya, Kasargode on Sunday night.
When TP Chandrashekharan was killed by 51 stabs on his body in a diabolic act, there were state-wide protests and condemnation against the grisly act. Not only that, following the discovery that all the accused charged in that crime were either local leaders or active workers of the largest left-wing party of the state, and the party had to go on the defensive, responsible leadership had given the assurance that CPM would never again indulge in assassination politics or abet it. But it did not take long for all those assurances to be of no avail. For Muslim League activist Ariyil Shukkoor and Congress worker Shuhaib became victims of murders after that.
In the Shukkoor murder case, the latest names to be added by CBI to the accused are of Kannur district sercretary of CPM P Jayarajan and TV Rajesh MLA. Although CPM claims that the indictment was the result of a collusive political operation by the BJP and the Congress, the circumstances are such that the people are not inclined to take those explanations at their face value. By now, the investigation about the Kasargode murders have led the police to prepare First Information Report (FIR) saying that the party is involved in the twin murder. And, as stated in the inquest report, the murder was conducted in a most cold-blooded manner. Even as it is reported that the murders were a fall-out of the Congress-CPM enmity that existed long before the incident, no one can dismiss the Congress contention that it was a pre-planned one, as lacking substance. And the allegation by the senior national Congress leader AK Antony that the assassinations took place with the knowledge of CPM's top leaders, also begs a convincing reply from CPM leadership. However, the statement of CPM's state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan in response to the incident has an apologetic tone about it, even as he recognizes that the act is unacceptable and to be condemned. He assures that if those who committed the murder are from within the party, there will be disciplinary action and it will not be tolerated. Kodiyeri has also recalled that the party's state committee had gone public with the position that whatever the provocations, violence and murders will not be entertained and CPM workers should not engage in any form of violence.
Political assassinations, however, are by no means the monopoly of CPM. RSS-BJP gangs have committed scores of heinous murders. Nor are UDF constituents totally innocent in this regard. That said, as a party that has ruled the state several times, and is still ruling, and as the leading constituent of the ruling front, CPM bears the biggest responsibility in this regard. If what Kodiyeri affirmed is the party's unflinching stance, that has to be proven through the behaviour of the rank and file. Unfortunately, the record of the party's following does not allow the people to view that party as one eschewing use of force. The leadership cannot plead that the past murders were all reactions on the spur of the moment by party workers under provocation. Not only that, CPM has been seen trying to save from grievous criminal charges those who got caught in clear murders, and even if they got sentenced and entered the prison, the leadership would do everything in its power to get them released. The guarantee that regardless of the atrocities committed, the party would come to his rescue, will never lead the culprits to mend their ways, or comply with law. Therefore, the CPM would be well advised to nurture a humane culture in the party that keeps workers away from grave crimes like murder. And this is essential for their own popularity and acceptability, especially when an election in which even existence is becoming a question mark, is round the corner. In this juncture, CPM is faced with a situaton complelling it to denounce acts that people hate, and this it has to do by setting its own example. In parallel, the ruling party should also have the realization that any failure on the part of the current government in bringing before law the petpetrators of the Kasargode murders, will be questioned severely.