Kerala political killings: CBI issues notice to crime branch, asks for case diary
In an unusual move, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday sent a notice to the Kerala crime branch asking it to hand over the case diary of the twin political murders of Youth Congress workers and cautioned that the agency would be forced to seize it if it was delayed further.
The CBI has sent the notice under CrPC 91 (summons to produce important documents) after the crime branch failed to hand over details after six requests, a senior official of the agency said. The notice was issued to the deputy superintendent of police who investigated the case. The state government is trying its best to prevent the CBI from taking over the probe fearing the central agency will implicate its senior leaders in the case.
Youth Congress workers Kripesh and Sharth Lal were waylaid and hacked to death brutally by an alleged group of CPI (M) workers in Periya in north Kerala in February 2019. Though both chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had condemned the double murders most of the arrested were active party workers.
Parents of the victims had moved the High Court later saying that the investigation was not conducted properly and many leaders were left out by the crime branch due to political pressure and they sought a CBI probe. A single bench of the HC had accepted their plea but the government moved the division bench which also upheld the single bench order. However, the government later moved the Supreme Court which also refused to stay the HC order.
The Opposition Congress and BJP have questioned the government’s move saying it was more interested in protecting the perpetrators of the crime, not families of the victims. Many senior advocates from the Supreme Court were approached by the government but all the courts stood with the parents of the victims.
Though the state police arrested 12 people, all local CPI(M) workers, in connection with the case, the parents alleged that it was a well-planned and executed murder and many senior district leaders were involved in the conspiracy.
A week before the murder, the CPI(M) had organised a protest rally in the area and senior leader V P P Mustafa had made a speech in the meet threatening both the men that their days were numbered, the parents pointed out in their plea saying a central agency probe was needed to bring all the conspirators to book.
The CBI is already probing two political murder cases in north Kerala in which many senior leaders including former Kannur district secretary P Jayarajan were named as accused. So, the party had strongly opposed the CBI probe fearing that senior party functionaries would be made accused in the latest case also. Parents of both men alleged that senior party leaders knew about the murder and they protected the accused after the crime.
The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) said the Union government was using central agencies to weaken the state government and it will not allow free reign of CBI in the state. “The Modi government is using all opportunities to weaken an elected government. We will not allow this to happen,” said LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan. Two days back the party had announced an agitation against the central agencies but dropped its plan after Covid-19 cases spiked.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the government wanted to protect the “real killers” that is why it was opposing the CBI probe. North Kerala is notorious for political killings especially between red and saffron forces and usually the party leadership prepares the list of accused and submits it in the police station after every killing and this helps the real killers and those who worked behind the scenes to go scot free. But things have changed of late due to effective intervention of the judiciary and media, say political observers.