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A history of violence

The CPM and RSS are in a race to breed martyrs and build memorials on their graves. More than 250 people have fallen prey to the politics of revenge killing over the last three decades, reports Ramesh Babu.
Hindustan Times | By Ramesh Babu, Kannur (kerala)
UPDATED ON MAR 10, 2008 02:41 AM IST

Seriously injured Remya, 18, is lying on a rusted iron bed in Thalassery Government hospital. She lost her two fingers when she tried to save her father, Suresh Babu, from malevolent political opponents. He wasn't that lucky. Suresh received 120 stab wounds for believing in an ideology.

While a schoolteacher was dragged out of his classroom and brutally murdered before his students, a student leader was hacked to death in front of his parents – such savagery is common in Thalassery, the epicentre of the red-saffron clashes.

The two cadre-based parties, the CPM and RSS, are in a race to breed martyrs and build memorials on their graves. More than 250 people have fallen prey to the politics of revenge killing over the last three decades.

The warring parties have no qualm in displaying these memorials and nurture 'killing squads' to equal their 'goals' - a term used in local parlor to settle political scores. A missing flag, defacing of party wall or damage to a bus shelter in the name of a martyr are enough to ignite a fresh round.

For the Communists, Kannur attained a Leningrad-status by the fifties. It was here the ideology took its first roots in the state and produced its best leaders including AK Gopalan, KPR Gopalan and EK Nayanar.

In the sixties the RSS, with the blessings of the Mangalore business lobby, started sneaking into this Communist bastion. They needed the RSS to check the influential Muslim traders, Koyas.

The uneasy co-existence between the two took a bloody turn in 1968 when the Marxists killed an RSS activist, Vadikkal Ramakrishnan. Since then it was a bloody battle for supremacy between the two. They competed themselves to form party villages where their opponents were banned.

Last Wednesday when the RSS town Karyavah was attacked by the red party retaliation came in half-an-hour — reflecting the readiness of party villages and their killing machines. In the latest round seven people were killed while several others are still battling for their lives in hospitals.

None of the victims, however, were hardcore party activists but poor labourers. “About ten years ago Sathyan was an RSS worker. He had severed all links to politics but he was targeted nevertheless,” his uncle said.

No one in this political hinterland is aware of the reason behind the eye-for-eye, tooth for tooth politics but agree that the bloodbath should end.

This time, Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan was vocal and dubbed it as “mere madness”, but in 1999 when CPM leader P Jayarajan was attacked it was he who made a provocative speech in Thalassery And said the “attackers would be repaid with interest and compound interest”.

RSS leaders argue that they were targeted to check the depletion of the red fort and Marxists say they are attacked because they protect the minority community.

Whatever the argument the common man has been at the receiving end as always.

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