Communal Violence and Political Killings in Kerala
Author: Thamanna Abdul Latheef 06 Apr 2018
Even the literate state of the country, Kerala, is no stranger to political killings and communal violence. According to the latest Ministry of Home Affairs report on communal violence in Kerala, it shows that the state has witnessed 100% rise in the number of communal incidents in 2017 as compared to that of the previous year. While 12 communal incidents and one death were reported in 2017, six incidents were reported in 2016 and three in 2015.
Although with a high literacy rate among the highest in India, it ranks among states with the country’s most violent communal incidents. With the rising effect of the RSS and the BJP national front, fundamentalism has spiked in the state.
While 28 persons were injured in communal incidents in the state in 2017, the number stood at 10 in 2016 and three in 2015. North Kerala has been a witness to the increasing bouts of politically motivated violence in the state. Many party workers keep a scoreboard of how many workers have been killed in their respective parties.
According to police, nearly 600 rioting cases have been registered in north Kerala since 2000, while five political killings have been officially recorded in this small area since 2001. Since the assembly elections were declared in March last year, 178 cases in connection with political rivalries have been booked in nearby Thanur, a town in Malappuram, station.
According to police records, 172 political murders have occurred since 2000. Of these, the RSS and the BJP have together lost 65 party workers, while 85 of the CPI (M)’s workers have been killed. 11 activists each of the Congress and the IUML have also been killed in this period.
Kannur has become a symbol of the inflammatory potential of mixing politics with religion in Kerala. Though five out of 20 ministers in the Kerala cabinet are from Kannur — including the chief minister, it is still a politically volatile district. Muslims comprise 38 percent of its population.
In May 2003, eight Hindus were killed by a Muslim mob in Marad. A judicial commission found the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) guilty of being involved in both the conspiracy and the massacre. Other districts and towns in Kerala have witnessed similar outbreaks of communal violence.
Conversions are becoming rife these days and in several districts, minorities are now the majority. This element constitutes the communal clashes. However, communal violence is merely not restricted to Hindu-Muslim clashes but Muslims and Christians have rioted as well. Though, most of the communal clashes in recent past have occurred between Hindu and Muslim community, not even a single political party has come up with a solution to avert the tension.
The state leaders claim the RSS and the BJP are deliberately polarizing the communal atmosphere to expand their political footprint in Kerala. Though the Left and the Congress have ruled the state since Independence, the RSS set up its base in the 1940s.
Nadapuram is on the border of Kannur, which is a well-known political battleground in the state where violence and murders occur recurrently between CPI(M) and RSS cadres. It is ill-famed for the cycle of violence between CPI(M) and IUML, Aslam’s, a Muslim League worker, murder has raised political tensions again in the region last year. The political crack between these two parties first became significant after the murder of IUML’s Ariyil Shukkoor in Kannur in February 2012. More recently, there have been reports of violence between IUML and CPI(M) workers in Thanur area as well in the neighbouring Malappuram district. The region witnessed massive violence with 80 Muslim houses attacked immediately after Shibin’s, a CPI(M) activist, murder last year.
One such new emerging group has been the Popular Front of India (PFI), a right-wing Muslim organization in Kerala that was the successor of the National Development Front (NDF). One of the political murders in Nadapuram – the murder of CPI(M) activist Binu in 2001 for alleged rape attempt of a Muslim woman – was committed by the NDF, while the PFI was behind the chopping of a professor’s hand in 2010 for allegedly insulting the prophet.
This doesn’t seem to have an end as the intensity of the issues are getting worse day-by-day. Instead of maintaining communal harmony, even the political parties and the regional parties are creating disgust among the fellow men and the communities. Rather than politically motivating to kill someone, every party in the state must focus on how to use manpower effectively to uplift the society.
By: Thamanna Abdul Latheef C
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