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Kannur calling: The bloody Left-Saffron clashes now settle scores in Kerala capital

A father killed in front his minor daughter and a teacher dragged out of the classroom and butchered before horrified children, gory incidents that shame even the Taliban are nothing new to Kannur where the Red and Saffron outfits are out to settle scores.

india Updated: Aug 01, 2017 20:54 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Kannur,CPI(M),RSS
BJP activists staging a protest march as part of the statewide strike against killing of a party worker, who was hacked to death by alleged CPI(M) workers in Pinarayi town of Kannur district in Kerala.(PTI)

The “Kannur model politics” has reached Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The northern district — home to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan — has for decades been defined by bloody clashes between the Left and the RSS-BJP which is otherwise referred to as eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-tooth politics — revenge at any cost.

A father killed in front his minor daughter and a teacher dragged out of the classroom and butchered before horrified children, gory incidents that shame even the Taliban are nothing new to Kannur where the Red and Saffron outfits are out to settle scores.

List of Killings since 2016
  • Feb 13: RSS activist Sujith killed before his parents in Pappinassery
  • May 18: CPI(M) worker C Raveendran (55), on a victory rally, killed in a bomb attack in Mambaram
  • July 11: CPI(M) leader Dhanraj (48) stabbed to death in front of his wife and daughter in Payyanur.
  • Within hours CPI(M) took revenge by killing RSS worker C K Ramachandran (52), an auto driver, before his young daughter. Her video “Why you made me an orphan?” went viral later
  • Sept 4: RSS worker Bineesh (26) was hacked to death in Thillankerry
  • Oct 10: K Mohanan, CPI(M) local committee secretary, was killed in Vengad near Pinarayi
  • Oct 12: RSS activist Remith killed in Pinarayi. His father Uthaman was killed by CPI(M) workers in 2002
  • Jan 18, 2017: RSS worker E Santhosh was hacked to death in Andaloor in CM’s constituency Dharmadom
  • May 12, 2017: RSS activist Biju (28) killed in Payyanur

Now, in the last five days, at least 24 houses and 18 party offices, including BJP state headquarters, have been attacked in Thiruvananthapuram.

The shift in the clashes come a year after CPI(M)-led Left front came to power in Kerala and three years after the BJP-led NDA stormed the Centre.

Red-Saffron Clash History

For Communists, Kannur is what Nagpur is to saffron forces. Thanks to feudalism, complex caste system and backwardness of the area, the Left made deep roots in the area in 1950s. Many tall leaders of the party, including A K Gopalan, E K Nayaynar, KPR Gopalan to the present CM belong to this area.

In the early 60s, the RSS, with the blessings of Mangalore business lobby, started sneaking into the Communist fort. The rich Konkan business lobby needed the RSS to check the influential Muslim traders, Koyas, of north Malabar.

Soon both took sides over the thriving beedi business in the area. While the CPI(M) supported ‘Dinesh’ beedi, RSS backed Ganesh beedi.

The uneasy ties between the two took a bloody turn in 1968 when Marxists killed an RSS activist, Vadikkal Ramakrishnan. After a lull for some time, the revenge killings resurfaced in the 80s.

Where Survivors Call The Dead Lucky

At least 60% of the political clashes in the state take place in Kannur. In 2016, 800 political clashes were reported from the district and police arrested 1,200 persons of both the camps.

At least 240 survivors, who escaped death, roam around the blood-littered streets. Living vegetables, they often call the dead lucky.

Why the Bloodshed is Unchecked?

In the hysteric crave for revenge, activists of both groups put the chosen party above everything else, sometimes even above blood relations. There have been incidents of siblings belonging to rival camps attacking each other. RSS has claimed that at least 50% of the activists killed were erstwhile Marxists.

“People of Kannur are really loving (by nature). But when it comes to ideology, they forget everything,” says senior journalist and political commentator N K Raveendran.

“Leaders of both often stoke their fear and anguish,” he said, adding the it is up to them to convince their cadre to stop the revenge killings, as “there will be no end to it”.

People like him feel that the warrior background of the area makes things more complex. In ballads of north Malabar (Vadakkan Pattukal), revenge and honour killings are always lauded.

But historians like M G S Narayanan rejected this theory, saying that ballads can’t be blamed for sheer politics of intolerance. “It is a bloody race for supremacy, nothing else,” he said.

First Published: Aug 01, 2017 20:54 IST