The order of the Kerala High Court's division bench on Tuesday, to refer the probe into the political murders of two young Congress workers, Kripesh and Sharath Lal in Kasargod district, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), should please every peace-seeking member of the society. The two were hacked to death on 17 February 2019. The northern districts of Kerala, Kannur and Kasargod, have a dubious reputation for political assassinations. Even as loud lectures are heard about peace, murders keep happening at regular intervals. Among the main reasons for the unending political killings is the non-conviction of real culprits and the fact that the remote-controllers of the killers do not come under the ambit of law. With the CBI taking over the case, it is hoped that the real criminals and those who control them from behind the curtain, will be brought before the law. With the addition of this case, it is going to be fourth case of political murders in Malabar area being investigated by the CBI. The murders of Mohammad Fasal, a worker of the erstwhile NDF, Muslim League worker Ariyil Shukoor and BJP worker Kadirur Manoj are the other cases in Malabar region. One thing that stands out in all these cases is that the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) is on the defence in all of them. It is the natural result of the intolerant and strong-armed policies adopted by that party in Kerala in general and particularly in Malabar. And the party is little aware of, or bothered by the political loss or morality drain caused to the party itself by this culture of violence.
When elections arrive, it is customary for all political parties to adopt a line of being on the side of peace. But it was different in the case of the murder of a former CPM leader - who fell out with it and formed another party eventually - TP Chandrashekharan from Onchiyam, Kozhikode, who was stabbed to death on 4 May 2012; that coincided with the clarion call much in the air for the by-election in Neyyattinkara. As for the murders of Kripesh and Sharath Lal, they happened when the country was entering the heat of the Lok Sabha election. Which is to say, even when elections are at hand, the murderous urge has been staying with the party. The persons who stand in the dock for the double murder of Periya are responsible members of the party including CPM's local secretary. The case has so far been investigated by the state Crime Branch. The High Court order transferring the case to CBI, has been issued on the petition by the relatives of the dead, pleading mistrust in the Crime Branch enquiry.
The official stance of the CPM is that it is not interested at all in protecting the accused. At the same time, the CPM-led government tried its best to block the CBI takeover of the case by employing senior lawyers from the Supreme Court at very high fees - a clear indication that the CPM would like to avert a CBI takeover at any cost. It is sure to turn out to be a big setback that the party tried to offer a defence in a murder case spending huge amounts from the treasury and then failed in that bid.
No one would argue that the CPM is the sole party resorting to the path of violence and that all other parties are peace-loving. But in almost all cases of political violence, CPM has been on one side of the conflict. It is also a fact that in the party's strong-holds, it has a record of not allowing not only party adversaries, but even constituent parties of their own alliance , to function. This streak extends also to the campuses, where CPM's student wing Students Federation of India (SFI) has a track record of using this in more intimidating style. In other words, political fanaticism is being handed over by the old generation to the new. In place of this muscular culture, what the CPM should aim at is to imbibe democratic decorum and political tolerance by educating its rank and file and secondary leadership on such a culture. Kerala is one of the last surviving bastions of CPM in the country and it would do well for the movement to remember that the political ethos craved for by the people is that of democracy and political pluralism, without which no one can survive.