In Kerala, communally inflammatory reactions following murders raise the heat at places with history of political violence

Communally inflammatory reactions in the aftermath of the murder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker in Palakkad last month by suspected PFI activists, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s allegation of conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar behind the murder of its functionary at Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta a few days ago have raised concerns about escalation of tensions in parts of the State, especially the north Malabar region that has a history of political violence.

The politically volatile region, especially Kannur district, has witnessed no major incidents of political violence over the past few years. Peace initiatives at various levels have helped rival political workers come out of the spiral of retaliatory violence, mainly involving CPI(M) and BJP-RSS workers.

The floods and the pandemic have also taken the bite out of the political rivalry in the region. That peace, however, now appears under stress because of visible attempts to build up tensions. In the wake of the murder of local RSS leader S. Sanjith in Palakkad on November 15, there are fears about political and communal passions being stoked in the region.

Provocative slogans

Thalassery has witnessed tensions in the past few days following a rally organised by the Sangh Parivar on December 1 as part of the commemoration of the death anniversary of slain BJP worker K.T. Jayakrishnan. Provocative slogans chanted by Sangh Parivar workers triggered protests from the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), among others. Fear of tensions forced the district authorities to impose prohibitory orders on Thalassery on December 3, in effect till December 6.

Senior CPI(M) leader and the party’s former Kannur district secretary P. Jayarajan in a Facebook post a few days ago summoned up memories of the communal violence that gripped Thalassery 50 years ago, reiterating the CPI(M)’s claim that it was party workers who had come forward to protect mosques and houses from attacks by RSS workers.

That claim, however, was not undisputed. Congress leaders from the district, especially Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran believe that the 1971 communal riot at Thalassery was a ploy of the CPI(M) to cause panic among Muslims in the region with the objective of forcing them to support the party.

Cyclical violence

The murder of CPI(M) local secretary P.B. Sandeep Kumar at Thiruvalla on December 2 is also feared to whip up passions in areas haunted by cyclical political violence in the past.

Following CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s rebuttal of the police’s initial finding that personal vendetta was the motive behind the murder at Thiruvalla, political rivalry was confirmed as the cause in party circles.

The party is organising protests on December 7 against “nationwide attacks” by RSS workers on minorities. As political parties engage in posturing amid tensions, the fraught atmosphere is a throwback to periods of unease that could open the path to serious escalation.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 5:35:41 AM |

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