By P. Sreekumaran
THURUVANANTHAPURAM: A flaming controversy has erupted over the arrest of two CPI(M) workers in Kozhikode district for their alleged Maoist links.
Parties cutting across political affiliations have unreservedly condemned the police action in slapping the dreaded Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), passed recently by Parliament, on the workers.
The Opposition parties have, gleefully, grabbed the chance to grill the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front(LDF) Government for invoking the provisions of a black act the latter has strongly opposed both in Parliament and outside.
It is not as if the opposition parties alone have taken strong exception to what they have termed ‘State-sponsored terrorism’. The second most important ally of the CPI(M) in the LDF, the CPI has also strongly opposed the police action. Black laws like the UAPA have no place in a civilised society and in a country like India which is a constitutional democracy. That is the stand of the CPI which has demanded that the Government make quick amends for the serious lapse on the part of the police.
Significantly, many senior leaders of the CPI(M) itself have come down heavily on the police, which they feel has become a law unto themselves. Among them are Politburo member M A Baby and LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan and Ministers like Thomas Isaac. As if this is not enough, the CPI(MP) State Secretariat has registered its protest against the police excesses. The Kozhikode South Area Committee of the CPI(M) went to the extent of passing a resolution condemning the police action.
On the other hand, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, initially, defended the police action. But, confronted with the mounting pressure from within the CPI(MP) itself, he has also frowned upon the police proclivity to misuse the UAPA.
The police, on its part, continues to justify the slapping of UAPA on the arrested CPI(M) workers. The police claims to be in possession of ‘clear evidence’ of the Maoist connections of the duo. In support of their contention, police say that they recovered Maoist leaflets and books from them. Besides, one of the arrested CPI(M) worker raised Maoist slogans when the police raided his house, claims the Police.
The parents of the CPI(M) worker Taha, have, however, disputed the police claim. They contend that nothing was recovered from the house except a mobile phone which belongs to his brother. The Maoist leaflets were brought by the police themselves to falsely implicate Taha in the case. Moreover, he raised pro-Maoist slogans when he was forced to do so by the police, the mother of Taha averred.
Political parties contend that the police have resorted to the blatant misuse of UAPA to deflect attention from the action of the special squad named Thunderbolt which gunned down four Maoists in Attappadi forest in Palakkad district a few days back.
The CPI had debunked the Thunderbolt’s claim that it shot them down after the Maoists started firing at them. The CPI leaders rejected the contention and said the Maoists were killed in a fake encounter. The Opposition parties have also identified themselves with the sentiments voiced by the CPI.
The Police had come under pressure in a case involving the killing of two girls in Valayar which had inflamed the entire state. The Police deliberately sabotaged the case, to save the culprits who they alleged, belonged to the ruling party. It was to divert the attention of the people from these two cases that the police invoked the UAPA against the two CPI(M) workers. That is the public perception.
Interestingly, the Congress leaders who are making a hue and cry over the slapping of UAPA, conveniently forget that the Congress-led UDF Government in the State had registered as many as 134 cases under UAPA! Leader of the Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala, therefore, has no moral right to grill the government on that score, points out Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
In his statement in the State Assembly, the CM has promised to look into the issue. If the police was wrong in slapping the UAPA, there would be strong action against the ‘guilty’ , he said. But if there is clinching evidence against the two workers, then the UAPA imposition would stand. That is the impression the Chief Minister has tried to create.
Interestingly, a BJP spokesperson who participated in a discussion on the subject on a TV channel, supported the CM and the police! His contention: if the arrested CPI(M) workers have Maoist connections, then they deserve no sympathy and should be dealt with sternly. The slapping of UAPPA would be justified if there is incontrovertible evidence of their Maoist links, he contended.
Whatever the denouement, the CPI(M) and the LDF Government have come under tremendous pressure over the unfortunate episode. The rank and file of the CPI(M) are unhappy that two party workers have been slapped with UAPA when an LDF Government led by the CPI(M) is in power. But the CM continues to justify the police action even as he says the CPI(M) is against black laws like the UAPA. Opposition parties say this amounts to running with the hare and hunting with the hound. If the police fails to prove the ‘Maoist links’ of the arrested workers, then the CM would face acute embarrassment within the party and outside. Significantly, the central CPI(M) leaders have roundly criticised the slapping of UAPA by the Kerala Police. (IPA Service)