Thiruvananthapuram, Sept. 1: A prominent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist died of injuries today in Kannur after being attacked with bombs and sharp-edged weapons in a suspected revenge strike, as political violence claimed another life in this north Kerala district.
The murder of E. Manoj, which prompted the Sangh to call a statewide shutdown tomorrow, came days after a BJP trade union activist succumbed to injuries suffered in an attack.
This morning’s attack came on a day BJP president Amit Shah is in Kerala to oversee the affairs of the state unit ahead of local body elections.
Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s closest aide, condemned the murder while speaking at a party event.
Manoj, who headed the RSS’s district physical instruction wing, was travelling with his friend Pramod in an Omni around 11am when the assailants threw crude bombs at the vehicle as it reached Diamond Junction in Kathiroor.
The van skidded off the road and rammed into an electric post. The assailants then pulled the two out of the vehicle and stabbed them repeatedly before fleeing.
While Manoj died on the way to a hospital, Pramod’s condition is said to be serious.
The RSS was quick to point fingers at the CPM district leadership. Both Manoj and Pramod were accused in cases of assault on CPM activists, including a 1999 attempt on the Left party’s current district secretary P. Jayarajan.
On August 28, Suresh Kumar, a worker of the BJP’s trade union wing BMS, died in hospital, 11 days after being attacked by alleged CPM cadres near his home that falls under Kathiroor police station.
While reports earlier in the day had said the BJP had called a dawn-to-dusk shutdown only in Kannur, a party spokesperson clarified by evening that it would extend full support to the Sangh’s protest call.
Some political observers saw a message in the Sangh’s decision to call a state-wide shutdown while Shah is camping in the state. Sections in the Sangh feel that the Centre has not been paying enough attention to Kerala, especially incidents where “Red terror” has claimed its cadre.
The parivar had long been demanding a CBI probe into some gruesome political killings, such as the murder of BJP leader K.T. Jayakrishnan, a schoolteacher who was hacked to death in front of Class VI students while he was taking class on December 1, 1999.
The five-member gang had even left a message on the blackboard warning the children against speaking to police.
The police had arrested five men in connection with the murder and all of them were convicted by a trial court. The Supreme Court later acquitted four of them and upheld the conviction of A. Pradeepan, said to be a CPM worker.