Thiruvananthapuram, July 5: Kerala police today booked a CPM state committee member for allegedly helping a murder accused evade arrest, giving a jolt to the party in a case that has already widened the cracks in the faction-riven unit.
K.K. Ragesh, a former all-India president of the party’s student wing SFI, is the senior-most leader to be implicated in the case. The police have so far arrested over a dozen cadres for the May 4 murder of former party rebel T.P. Chandrasekharan.
Ragesh said the police action was “politically motivated” and intended at “character assassination”.
“Police are acting in a prejudiced manner and are dancing to the tunes of the chief minister and the home minister. The object is to malign me and my party,” Ragesh told The Telegraph.
The murder of Chandrasekharan, who floated the Revolutionary Marxist Party after falling out with the CPM, is believed to have been the outcome of political rivalry.
It prompted a sharp criticism from former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan who blamed the state CPM’s dominant faction, led by a long-time rival, of encouraging politics of violence, deepening the fissures within the southern unit.
While preliminary investigations pointed to a conspiracy, with Chandrasekharan’s killers suspected to be linked to the CPM, the party had denied the charge and claimed it was a plot by the ruling Congress to defame it.
According to the police, which included Ragesh’s name in the list of accused, the state committee member helped the alleged mastermind, P.K. Kunjananthan, evade arrest for over a month.
Kunjananthan, an area committee member of the CPM in the northern Kannur district, is believed to be one of the key men linking the assailants with the conspirators, alleged to be above him in the party hierarchy.
He went underground soon after news of his alleged involvement broke, only to surrender before a court last week.
The police had earlier asked Ragesh to present himself for questioning, apparently after a statement given by an SFI activist who has been accused of arranging the hideout for Kunjananthan.
Ragesh had pleaded ill health and requested that he be excused for 20 days. But police sources said they decided to get tough following reports that he had attended party events.
Ragesh admitted that he had received a notice from the police last week. “I have dislocated my knee and was bedridden for a while. In between, there was some temporary improvement and then I had attended a party state meet. But again the knee started paining and I’m now undergoing Ayurveda treatment,” he said.
“I had already intimated to them (the police) that I would have no problem if the questioning was in Kannur or nearby. Only long-distance travel is forbidden.”
Ragesh also said he had come to know that he had been booked in the case through the media.
State CPM chief Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that Ragesh had been made an accused in the case on the basis of “untrue and incorrect” statements, a PTI report quoted him as saying.
Vijayan said the Congress-led UDF government was misusing the police to harass CPM leaders under the cover of Chandrasekharan’s murder.
Chandrasekharan was hacked to death on the night of May 4 by a seven-member team. Six of the alleged killers are already in the police net.