By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The people of Kerala woke up to this Sunday soaked with blood. The recrudescence of murder politics – two killings in 12 hours – has given a rude jolt to the state.
Both the murders took place in Alappuzha district. While Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) state secretary K S Shan was killed by a gang on Saturday night, BJP’s OBC Morcha state secretary Renjith Sreenivasan was hacked to death in front of his mother at his home. District police say the murders are connected to each other, indicating that it could be retaliatory. Police have already taken into custody 50 people, including SDPI and RSS activists. Prohibitory orders have been clamped in view of the volatile situation arising out of the twin murders.
The back-to-back political killings have forced the police to beef up security across the State. Out of the 534 police stations, security has been increased in 140 stations with antecedents of communal and political violence. The proximate cause for the latest spike in violence is the murder of SDPI state secretary K S Shan by suspected RSS workers. Immediately after the incident, BJP’s OBC State Morcha secretary Renjith Sreenivasan was hacked to death by suspected SDPI workers.
It may be mentioned that Alappuzha district has been free of political violence for years. That is why the twin murders have come as a shock the people. Both the SDPI and the RSS have their areas of influence in the district. The trigger of violence, reports have it, was provided by the murder of an RSS worker in the area in February this year. Clashes between the SDPI and the RSS have taken place from time to time in areas of the district like Vayalar, Mannanchery, Kayamkulam and Charumood.
The sudden spurt in violence is being attributed to the growth in the influence of fundamentalist forces like the SDPI and PFI. Until now, political violence has been restricted to Kannur district alone. What is surprising is that while Kannur has been relatively peaceful, violence has erupted in Alappuzha district. For the LDF Government, violence could not have come at a worse time. The Government and the CPI(M) are struggling to shake off the effect of the arrest of a former party MLA in connection with the Periya murder case in Kasaragod district.
But Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has done the right thing by giving orders to the police to take strict action. And it is gratifying to note that the police have already swung into action. While political violence is nothing new in Kerala, what is causing grave concern is the increasing tendency of fundamentalist forces to unleash violence at the drop of a hat as it were. It is extremely worrisome to note that outfits like the SDPI and the PFI are emulating the RSS-style of retaliatory killings. This is a dangerous trend which needs to be nipped in the bud if the State is to be spared more political killings. It goes without saying that both minority communalism and majority communalism feed each other.
An equally disturbing trend is the open abetment to violence being given by political parties like the Indian Union Muslim League(IUML) among others. The recent IUML rally in Kozhikode to protest against the move to hand over waqf board appointments to the Public Service Commission(PSC) saw inflammatory speeches aimed at whipping up religious sentiments and encouraging communal polarisation. It exposed the tightening grip of extremist forces like the SDPI, Jamaat and PFI on the IUML. In a desperate bid to keep itself afloat, the IUML has started speaking the language of these fundamentalist forces, which can strain the fabric of communal amity the State is known for.
The Pinaryi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has its task cut out. A good beginning has been made by the call given by the Chief Minister to curb violence with a heavy hand. It is of utmost importance to ensure that communal forces do not gain an upper hand in the State. All parties across the political spectrum have a big role to play to see that the State remains an area of peace and communal harmony. Communal amity is in danger. It has to be defended with all the might at the command of the State. That is the need of the hour. (IPA Service)