Murder cloud on Kerala CPM duo

The CPM in Kerala may have to pay a heavy price if those arrested in connection with the murder of a Youth Congress leader last Monday are indeed the Left party's workers.

By Santosh Kumar
  • Published 20.02.18
Pinarayi Vijayan

New Delhi: The CPM in Kerala may have to pay a heavy price if those arrested in connection with the murder of a Youth Congress leader last Monday are indeed the Left party's workers.

The two arrested persons, said to be members of CPM youth wing DYFI, are also the main accused in the killing of an RSS worker a year ago. One of them has even been identified as the CPM's "cyber warrior".

While CPM leaders, including state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, are insisting no hand in the murder of Youth Congress worker Shuhaib, police said the two had confessed to the crime.

Moreover, their selfies with chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Kannur district committee secretary P. Jayarajan, which are in the public domain, are enough proof that the two have had close ties with the party.

The DYFI duo have reportedly told the police that they, along with three others belonging to CPM student wing SFI and labour arm Citu, were given a "quotation" by local CPM leaders to chop off Shuhaib's legs, but not kill him.

However, Shuhaib, who suffered 37 cuts below his waist, bled to death on the way to hospital. The Opposition sees it as a ploy by the CPM to make the murder look "accidental".

The Congress and the BJP insist that these are just "dummy" killers, referring to the old practice of parties in Kannur fielding innocents while the real culprits go scot-free. The Congress strongman of the area, K. Sudhakaran, is on an indefinite fast even as the government has called a peace meeting in Kannur on Wednesday.

But the most damaging perhaps was the five-day silence of the chief minister, who also incidentally holds the home portfolio.

There was public outrage when Vijayan, who did not react to the murder of a young man belonging to the minority community, found time to express indignation at the "intolerance" towards the use of a Malayalam song in a yet-to-be-released film featuring a teen who has become an Internet sensation.

It was an act, many in the CPM and journey men felt, reminiscent of the chief minister's refusal to visit affected villages adjacent to his seat of power in Thiruvananthapuram when Cyclone Ockhi hit the coastal districts of Kerala last November. Finally when Vijayan went there, he had to beat a hasty retreat in the face of protests from fisherfolk.

The 29-year-old Shuhaib was murdered in Mattannur, barely 10km from the chief minister's house in Pinarayi. Still it took five days for Vijayan to react. Many remember that Vijayan had rushed to Kozhikode last year when alleged RSS men set fire to a CPM office in an attempt to kill district secretary Mohanan.

"Pinarayi Vijayan is the chief minister of the state, not the party secretary. His silence was unpardonable," said M.N. Karassery, a highly respected writer-activist and communist co-traveller in Malabar.

His was not an isolated voice. "No murder can be justified," said CPM veteran V.S. Achuthanandan. The CPI too has condemned the murder politics in Kannur. There are thousands like Karassery who believe that the CPM is getting isolated from the people day by day, especially after the party came to power this time.

Dissenting voices are coming from within the party, the latest from Kannur district committee member N. Sukanya who has warned fellow comrades against using derogatory words against opponents on social media and channel debates.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that the public in general has become cynical towards the CPM. No one on the street is ready to swallow the party's assurances.

When the CPM secretary says action will be taken against cadres involved in murder, the general belief is that the party will hire the best lawyers to defend the accused, take care of their families, and in due course induct them into higher party forums even if they are languishing in jail.

The murder has also come at a time when the CPM has just launched a massive fund-raising campaign to defend the accused party members, including Kannur secretary Jayarajan, in RSS worker Kathiroor Manoj's murder, which the CBI is inquiring.

It is significant that the murder has taken place days before the Kerala CPM meets to prepare for the party congress in April.