Friday, March 14, 2008

CPM's killing fields: Kannur

The killing fields of Kannur
By Balbir K. Punj (March 15, 2008, Deccan Chronicle)

AKG Bhavan as the headquarters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) gets importance far in excess of the real strength of the Marxists. This is partly because right now they have the strategic advantage of keeping the UPA government in power at the federal level, while in effect the party has been holding sway in only three of India’s 30 states. Since the Marxists are deciding the federal agenda, they enjoy the advantage that all bruises inflicted on them get a national perspective.

That is why the BJP protest rally and the resulting skirmish outside the CPI(M)’s central office in Delhi got immense publicity, eclipsing the killing fields of Kannur of Kerala.The root cause of it all is the Marxist theory of violence as a legitimate means of not only acquiring power but also hanging on to it at any cost. The way the Marxists claw their way into village after village and shut out all other political elements was exposed to the world at Nandigram in West Bengal. Even the governor of the state was shocked by what Nandigram revealed and he did not hesitate to say so. By forcing their way into villages and shutting out others by sheer brute force, and with the state apparatus helping them in the process, the Marxists consolidated their hold.

This is what Kannur too has exposed. The North Malabar area with Kannur as its headquarters is a communist stronghold. Historically, building the party on the fallout of the Mappila Revolt of the early 20th century, the party, using its strong-arm tactics, ensured that there was no access for other political formations. Kannur also is the backyard that has bred top Marxist leaders, starting from A.K. Gopalan, the party boss of the Sixties, former chief minister of Kerala E.K. Nayanar to present state party boss Pinarayi Vijayan and state home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

In this blood-soaked district, the recent spate of violence and counter-violence started soon after state home minister Balakrishnan suddenly transferred tough district officers and posted a set of pliable ones soon after the party’s recent session at Kottayam. The Marxists are worried that despite their tentacles spread all over North Malabar, people are beginning to revolt against Marxist rule.

The RSS has courageously faced the brunt of the Marxist attack for quite some decades now, and has sought to challenge Marxist hegemony. The brutality practised by the Marxists became evident when an RSS-minded schoolteacher was cut to pieces in front of his students two decades ago. Kannur has seen bloody clashes between Marxists and Congress workers, between the Marxists and the Muslim League, and even between the CPI(M) and the CPI. The inner secrets of Marxist hegemony enforced by violence and economic power became public when a top leader M.V. Raghavan broke ranks to tell the truth.

Raghavan has been the target of several violent attacks since and has survived them by being part of the rival UDF. Only last year the Marxists used their cadres to oust him from the cooperative society that runs a local medical college. But the Kerala high court invalidated that “election,” exposing the Marxist machinations. This was one more of the several setbacks the comrades have received apart from the steady accretion of the strength of the BJP-RSS that is worrying them.

The current spate of violence started soon after the Marxist party session in Kottayam. The session saw the consolidation of state party boss Pinarayi Vijayan who took complete control of the party apparatus overshadowing the chief minister, V.S. Achuthanandan. The chief minister has been reduced to a shadow in the power structure of the Marxist party. The state home minister Balakrishnan is a Vijayan appointee.

The last two weeks’ orgy of violence was inaugurated with the comrades hacking to death an RSS worker. The weapons used in the series of killings in the area were sickles, swords and daggers. In some cases, locally made bombs were used. Sickles and swords are used because they are easily available and used in agriculture. They are good at targeting individuals rather than bombs that can kill a crowd. Hacking is the communists’ favourite game as it leaves a horrific sight and generates fear.

Not just the RSS, even other political parties like the Congress and the Muslim League have expressed concern over this senseless violence. Oommen Chandy, the Leader of Opposition, even went on a day long fast to highlight the officially protected violence in Kannur. Remembering how the Marxist government in West Bengal was hoodwinking the public and the Centre over the restoration of peace in Nandigram, what their compatriots are doing in Kerala can generate no confidence among the non-Marxist parties. Time and again, Kannur had witnessed clashes between the Marxists and the Congress — even the CPI had once warned the Marxists over targeting its cadres.

However, the silver lining in all this is that the Marxists are finding (as in Nandigram) that they cannot always use violence against other political and ideological formations to prevent the latter from establishing their own presence. The people of Malabar seem to have woken up to the threat that the Marxists will establish a Soviet land there with a virtual one party regime. Having seen the police playing a partisan role there, the people are taking up on themselves the defence of their basic right to organise and propagate other political philosophies than Marxism.
The Marxists are therefore getting desperate even as the cleavage between the government and their party is widening. The Marxist chief minister even dares to ignore his party general secretary Prakash Karat’s advice to call an all party conference to restore peace. By claiming that this was not the time for such a conference, Achuthanandan has clearly signalled to his comrades that they could wreak as much havoc as possible. Of course, for those who have tracked such communist behaviour since the Twenties of the last century, this bout of violence in Kannur should cause little surprise.

Stalin’s extermination of millions of his own people was exposed by none other than his successor Nikita Khrushchev. Mao disregarded his own suffering people. The barbarism practised in Cambodia still weighs heavy on the conscience of humanity. So the Marxists need not pretend in New Delhi that they are the victims. They tried the same technique in Nandigram, but the entire episode exposed the comrades for what they were.

Balbir K. Punj can be contacted at killing fields of Kannur

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