Anxiety gripped Kerala on Sunday following the brutal murder of an RSS leader in State capital Thiruvananthapuram, where tension already prevailed, late Saturday night allegedly by a CPI(M) killer gang.
On Sunday, a BJP day-long shutdown against the killing evoked total response across the State even as police arrested seven accused, including the gang’s leader. Governor P Sathasivam summoned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and sought explanation. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also called up the CM and informed him about the Centre’s concern.
The RSS leader’s murder in the capital city, where prohibitory orders were in force following several incidents of violence involving the CPI(M) and BJP — including an attack on the latter’s State office early Friday morning — since Thursday, has raised fresh worries about the law and order situation in the State.
RSS Karyavahak Rajesh (34) of Kunnilveettil, Edavakode was hacked to death at Sreekaryam on Saturday night by a ten-member Marxist killer gang as he was preparing to return home.
The killers, who reached the spot on motorcycles, chopped Rajesh’s left hand and threw it into a nearby plot. He had suffered at least 40 wounds, mostly in the hands, legs and face, said eyewitnesses.
The gang fled the scene immediately after carrying out the attack.
“He (Rajesh) was lying in a pool of blood when we reached the spot,” said an eyewitness. The RSS leader was first taken to the Government Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram and was soon shifted to a private hospital in the city for urgent surgery. He succumbed to the hack injuries there.
“This is an unpardonable and inhuman act perpetrated on the basis of a conspiracy by the CPI(M) in which its top leaders have involvement. This is part of the Marxists’ annihilation politics and it cannot be taken lightly,” said State BJP president Kummanam Rajasekharan. He also called for Central intervention in the issue.
However, rejecting the charge, State CPI(M) secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said this was not a political murder but it was the result of personal rivalry. He said problems were already there between Rajesh and Manikkuttan, the killer gang’s leader. He alleged that Manikkuttan was a former sympathiser of the Congress but that party rejected the allegation.
In a move that observers termed as unusual, Governor P Sathasivam summoned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the police chief to Raj Bhavan to enquire about the actions taken on the law and order issues. Pinarayi assured the Governor that steps for restoring peace were on. DGP loknath Behera explained to Sathasivam the status of the probe into the murder.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called up the Marxist Chief Minister, who is also holding the Home portfolio, and informed him about the Centre’s concern over the killing and the state of affairs in Kerala. Asking Pinarayi to take stringent action against the culprits behind the murder, Singh told him that political violence was unacceptable in a democracy.
Promising unbiased legal action in the case of the killing of the RSS leader, Pinarayi said Rajnath had expressed satisfaction over State police’s probe but the BJP said the claim was false. Police issued a warning that legal action would be taken against those who propagated fake videos and messages over the murder through the social media.
Police said on Sunday afternoon that they had arrested seven accused, including the killer gang’s leader, and that six of them had direct involvement in the murder. The primary finding of police was that the motive behind the murder could have been political as well as personal. Police also took into custody three motorbikes used by the killer gang.
Meanwhile, the dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the BJP to protest against the RSS leader’s murder evoked total response across the State. Minor incidents of stone pelting at public vehicles and blocking of traffic were reported from some parts. Private and State-owned buses, autorikshaws and taxi cars stayed off the road the whole day.
A large number of people were unaware of the BJP’s call for the shutdown as it was given after 11.00 pm on Saturday and this led to stranding of a lot of passengers at railway stations and bus stands. However, the shutdown did not affect students, Government and private offices and trade and commerce as it was a holiday.
Sensitive areas in the State, including those in Thiruvananthapuram and the political volatile Kannur district, remained under tight police security throughout Sunday. The Congress party, led by Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, observed a day-long fast in Kozhikode in protest against the politics of violence allegedly being practised by the CPI(M).