In the politically charged villages of Kannur, notorious for clashes between the Left and saffron supporters, bomb-making is like a cottage industry. Local police dread to enter some of these villages and attacks on raiding police parties are routine. This year alone, Kannur witnessed seven political murders and 200-odd violent clashes.
Freak accidents while making country-made bombs are routine here. An RSS worker Deeshith, 23, was blown to bits four months ago in Kuthuparambha and two CPI(M) activists lost their lives near Panur last year when the explosives they were assembling went off.
When an accident takes place, often local leaders rush to the spot to erase the evidence, leaving little chance for the investigators, claim security officials.
At least 18 persons suffered serious burn injures while making bombs and nearly 60 crude bombs were seized by police this year. The statistics are alarming but the RSS and CPI(M) dismiss it saying these were isolated incidents.
A visit to Kannu’rs hinterland shows the extent of damage, as several “living vegetables” dot the villages -- a man who lost his palm, a youth with a severed leg and another with deep gashes all over his body. Some are victims of politics clashes, while others display self-inflicted injuries in the ferocious fight for territorial control. These maimed and crippled survivors call the dead as the “lucky ones”.
The “party villages” with clear affiliation to the RSS or the CPI(M) have a select cadre that is apparently trained in making and handling an assortment of bombs, ranging from steel, petrol to acid.
The explosives are hidden at secluded spots, often causing accidental injury. On occasions crude bombs have also been stashed in tombs to avoid detection. Recently, a dozen steel bombs were recovered from an abandoned well in Panur.
In attacks, known as the Kannur-model, bombs are used randomly to scare away people and immobilise the victim before hacking him gruesomely.
“We manage ammonium nitrate and sulphur from our agents and quarry owners. To make impact stronger we fill it with nails and aluminium powder,” said an activist who had a miraculous escape two years ago while filling the explosive. Committed to the ideology, for him his party is larger than his life.
“Police alone can’t control bomb culture. Warring parties will have to take sincere steps to disown these criminal elements. They thrive because they are patronised by respective parties,” said a senior police officer pleading helplessness.
Talk to leaders of both camps and they outright reject that there is bomb culture or “party villages” exist. In such designated villages, members of rival parties are unwelcome as these clusters are a law unto themselves.
In most such villages, there is also a dress code -- in CPI(M)-controlled villages youth wear red shirt or T-shirts displaying Che Guevara’s photo; while in RSS villages they prefer saffron ‘mundu’ and white shirt. Such is the animosity that even marriages are discouraged among opposing “party villages”.
“It is the poor workers who are often getting killed. The leaders provoke these guys and sit quiet. I personally feel if leaders of both groups really wanted they can put a full-stop to the mindless killing,” said actor-writer Sreenivasan, who hails from the area.
”There are two ways to bring peace in Kannur. First is independent and effective policing and secondly, parties should weed out criminal elements from their ranks,” said former state police chief Jacob Punoose, adding that it was wrong to call them political murders. “It is nothing but gangland murders. Political tinge gives them unnecessary recognition and protection,” he said.