Who’s behind the Kerala killings?

"RSS has grand designs of altering our society by giving it a communal colour and we will not let that happen."

March 10, 2017 12:04 am | Updated 10:48 am IST

Bharatiya Janata Party workers take out a march in Kannur to protest against the attack on a party functionary in Kannur.

Bharatiya Janata Party workers take out a march in Kannur to protest against the attack on a party functionary in Kannur.


RSS has grand designs of altering our society by giving it a communal colour and we will not let that happen, writes Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

Right from the Ranchi riots in August 1967, the Babri demolition in 1992, the Gujarat riots in 2002, to the recent Muzaffarnagar riots, the Sangh Parivar has always used nefarious designs to foment, organise and spread communal riots for rich electoral dividends. The Sangh Parivar is engaged in an attempt to make inroads into Kerala with the intention of altering society forever by giving it a communal colour. It is desperate because it finds that this is not an easy task given the strong presence of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the State, which will stall all attempts at communal polarisation.

This desperation is at the root of the murderous politics being practised by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghin Kerala. From 1971, when Thalassery in Kannur district witnessed rampant RSS-instigated violence against Muslims, the CPI(M) has taken the path of resistance. The designs of the RSS did not work in 1971 because of the stand the CPI(M) took. Since then, the RSS has been targeting our cadre and supporters, declaring us as their sworn enemies. They have not succeeded in their grand design of communal polarisation, but they have certainly succeeded in turning Kerala into a simmering pot of political violence.

No space for 'fanatics'

The brutality of RSS killings has ranged from the murder of an eight-year-old boy named Fahad of Kanhangad, to that of 68-year-old Sarojini Amma. So far, the RSS has slaughtered 205 CPI(M) activists in the State; over 3,000 CPI(M) activists have been disabled and the homes of over 10,000 activists attacked. Taken together, over 650 CPI(M) activists have been killed by the RSS, BJP, Congress, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the fundamentalist Muslim outfit Socialist Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and the police.

The last Assembly elections saw the CPI(M) coming to power with an unprecedented majority in Kerala under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan. The BJP struck alliances with 100-odd caste and religion-based outfits to fight the election. But the people of Kerala sent out a clear message that the fanatic Hindutva ideology has no space in the multicultural social fabric of Kerala.

The single seat that the BJP won was a gift from the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The Congress has always adopted a soft approach towards the Sangh Parivar. Congress Working Committee member A.K. Antony has criticised this approach and warned his party workers of the danger of ‘being Congress during the day and RSS at night’.

The alarming fact is that nine innocent persons have been murdered by the RSS in the last nine months, including in the Chief Minister’s constituency. Union Ministers are seen supporting and instigating these murders.

Peace overtures

However, despite these murders, the Sangh is finding it difficult to retain its foothold even in their supposed strongholds and many RSS leaders and workers have started speaking up against their leadership.

This has prompted the Sangh to create a greater fear psychosis among its cadres to prevent desertions. Our party does not believe in political violence or murders. We firmly believe that no organisation can be destroyed with violence. The CPI(M) is not likely to crumble in the face of political attacks and atrocities — if it were, the party would have ceased to exist. On many occasions the CPI(M) has taken the initiative to hold bilateral meetings with parties and organisations, including the RSS and BJP, to help put an end to violence.

Recently, the Chief Minister made yet another fervent effort in this direction by personally convening a meeting of leaders of all political parties to find a lasting solution to end the political violence in the State. We are always ready to talk to anyone to ensure peace in Kerala.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is State secretary of the CPI(M). He was Home Minister during the chief ministership of V.S. Achuthanandan.


The BJP will continue to support all peaceful initiatives. It is the CPI(M) which does not want peace, writes Kummanam Rajasekharan.

That Marxists are intolerant towards other ideologies is well-known. World over, this has been the experience since the October Revolution. In Kerala, wherever there is a political clash, the CPI(M) is a common factor. The undivided CPI’s first significant physical attack against the RSS was in 1948 at Thiruvananthapuram, against an RSS sanghik (conclave) addressed by the then RSS sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar. Another major attack by the CPI took place in 1952 on a gathering which was to be addressed by Guruji at Alappuzha.

During the Emergency, the fight against the autocratic and dynastic regime was carried on solely by RSS and its affiliates in Kerala. Thousands of RSS men staged non-violent satyagraha, courted arrest and underwent inhuman police torture during the period. The younger sections of the CPI(M) became a frustrated lot as they found their party’s approach towards the Emergency had compromised their position. As a result, several CPI(M) activists joined the underground activities of the RSS and turned into active cadres after the Emergency. This trend was more visible in the CPI(M) strongholds like Kannur, Alappuzha and coastal Thrissur. A desperate CPI(M) leadership came to the conclusion that the best way to stem the desertions was to kill those who joined the RSS. In September 1978, they killed Chandran of Panunda.

Over the years, several workers and leaders of the Sangh have been killed in Kannur. Prominent among those killed were BJP Kannur district secretary Pannyannoor Chandran (1986), Yuva Morcha State vice-president K.T. Jayakrishnan Master, who was killed in a classroom in front of Class VI students in 1999, and Kannur district sharirik pramukh Manoj (2014). In 1984, Kannur district sahakaryavaha Sadanandan Master’s legs were chopped off below the knees. The killing spree of the CPI(M) has been on view in other parts of the State too. At Vadanappally in Thrissur, they set fire to a house and a man was burnt to death. Three RSS men were killed in a single incident at Murukkumpuzha, Thiruvananthapuram, in 1987. In September 1996, Anu, Sajith and Kim Karun, ABVP workers at the Dewasvom Board College, Mannar, were attacked and they drowned in the Pampa river.

Such killings peak when the CPI(M) is in power and all investigations become farcical. The cadres kill during UDF rule too, but they enlist the Congress’s support and escape punishment. The judge who awarded capital punishment to K.T. Jayakrishnan’s murderers faced threats to his life and was given police protection. The CPI(M) Kannur district secretary, P. Jayarajan, was arrested in connection with the murder of RSS worker Manoj in 2014 and is now out on bail citing heart ailments. It is not just the RSS which is at the receiving end of CPI(M) violence. Workers of the Congress, Muslim League and even CPI, their coalition partner, have been targets of their murderous attacks. The killing of CPI(M) dissident T.P. Chandrasekharan at Vadakara is another instance of intolerance of the CPI(M).

Tense atmosphere

More than 200 Sangh workers have lost their lives in Kerala. In Kannur alone, about 85 swayamsevaks have been killed. Nine RSS/BJP workers, including a woman, have been killed since Pinarayi Vijayan took over as Chief Minister. Recent talks to maintain peace and end violence politics initiated from both sides have helped defuse the tense situation to a certain extent but, unfortunately, violent attacks on BJP workers are still being reported. Whatever the provocation, the BJP will not deviate from the path of peace and will continue to support all peace initiatives.

Kummanam Rajasekharan is Kerala BJP president and a long-time member of the RSS.

Both CPI(M) and RSS are indulging in violence to realise a common dream of a Congress-mukt Kerala, V. D. Satheesan.

It is impossible to believe that the green and pleasant homesteads and active and vibrant public spaces in Kannur are killing fields too. But, sadly, they are. Political murders and violence have become the order of the day in Kerala, especially in Kannur. In the last nine months of the LDF government, 19 political murders have been reported, mostly from this northern district, and five of them from the Chief Minister’s constituency. In 90% of the cases, it is a CPI(M) versus RSS-BJP fight. It is not just that lives are being cut short, but the future of their families is being shattered too. It is a war for territory, war for more cadres and it has become a numbers game too.

In Kannur and Kasaragod, unlike in other districts in Kerala, there are ‘party villages’, a strange concept and a horrible reality at the same time. In a CPI(M)-controlled village, everybody should be members or supporters of the CPI(M). They must take part in all party functions. The tentacles of the party do not end there. Whether it is a marriage or a death, it is the local committee or the area committee of the CPI(M) which takes all decisions. The party is all-pervasive. Dissent invites intimidation, ostracisation and often leads to violence — and in some cases, murder. The BJP-RSS parivar is as intolerant, unreasonable and undemocratic as the CPI(M). They are two sides of the same coin. They have no qualms about challenging the rule of law and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. There is no logic, no decency and no humaneness in the actions of these perpetrators of violence.

In Kannur, it is a numbers game too. Like in some medieval feudal world, they want heads as trophies. If the CPI(M) kills in one village, the RSS will retaliate in another part of Kannur. Then there are these vendetta killings. Those involved in a political murder or a clash are at risk of being attacked anytime, anywhere. In this crossfire, sometimes innocent lives are also lost. I believe that when the rulers themselves do not believe in concepts like rule of law and justice, criminals will rule the roost.


When the ruling party itself is involved in murders and violence, how can there be effective policing and justice for all? From T.P. Chandrasekharan’s case, the involvement of top CPI(M) leaders in killings and violence is out in the open. The BJP and its ideological fountainhead, the RSS, emboldened by their government at the Centre, have been engaging with the CPI(M) on a one-on-one basis.

The path forward

Neither the CPI(M) nor the BJP-RSS has a history of non-violent political dialogue. As long as theCPI(M) and the BJP refuse to see the value of democratic engagements and exchanges, there is little hope to get them across the table. In a place like Kerala where people have lived together for centuries with a lot of trust in each other and a lot of sharing, any attempt to polarise people on communal lines will be catastrophic. It is the Congress and the UDF that have stuck to a non-violent path and fought back against both the parivar and the CPI(M). For a Congress worker, aligning with democratic and non-violent forces comes naturally. It is the political conspiracy of the RSS and the CPI(M) to create as much violence as possible and grab maximum political space. They think by doing so, they can fulfil their dream of a Congress-free Kerala and a Congress-muktBharat. They are acting in a mutual and complementary manner. In this scenario of violence and hatred, the relevance of Congress and the UDF will increase because the need of the hour is a strong and clear voice upholding democracy, freedom and pluralism.

V. D. Satheesan is vice-president, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, and is also chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Kerala Assembly.

(All views as told to Gouridasan Nair)

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