Giving in to demands of the BJP, the Congress-led state government has now decided to hand over the probe to CBI
The murder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Manoj Kumar has once again brought Kerala's Kannur district under the spotlight for the wrong reasons. People in this district, notorious for retaliatory killings by the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Sangh Parivar cadres, fear this murder, too, will trigger a chain reaction.
The Sangh Parivar has, however, said it won't indulge in revenge attacks. It feels with a Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, it could do more damage to its ideological rival through other means.
Within a day of the murder, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, after a meeting with a delegation of top RSS leaders, called Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and sought a report on the incident. Following the Kerala unit of the BJP also seeking an investigation, the state government gave in to the demands, ordering a probe by the crime branch of the state police.
However, after the BJP alleged the chief of the investigation team was known to be a CPI-M supporter, the state has agreed to hand over the reins of the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
As bombs were hurled before Manoj's murder, the state police filed a first information report and invoked stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, apart from pressing murder charges against the accused.
The CPI-M has criticised the government for invoking UAPA provisions against the accused. P Jayarajan, the party's secretary for Kannur district, alleged the move smacked of the Congress and the BJP conspiring together. He questioned the invocation of an anti-terrorism Act in a case in which one person was killed and another injured.
Understandably, the CPI-M can't pursue the matter beyond a certain point, as the party's official stand is it had played no role in the murder.
The party will find it difficult to defend a Facebook post by Jayarajan's son, Jain Raj, who hailed the murder of Manoj, an accused in a case of an attack on his father on Onam day in 1999, as welcome news; he had also congratulated the murderers. The state police has filed a case against Raj.
Observers say the trigger for the latest attack was attempts by the CPI-M and the Sangh Parivar to poach workers from each other's folds. A few months ago, the CPI-M had accepted a group of disgruntled BJP workers into its fold. On its part, the BJP gave party memberships to more than 100 CPI-M workers and sympathisers and threatened to draw more.
BJP state president V Muralidharan said the attack was an attempt by the CPI-M to incite violence and try to stop the exodus of its workers.
The CPI-M has been witnessing an exodus of party workers for some time, especially after the murder of communist leader T P Chandrasekharan. It is also facing various ideological and organisational challenges, with a large section of its vote base shifting towards the BJP, as seen in the Lok Sabha elections this year.
Talking to Business Standard recently, CPI-M secretary Prakash Karat had accepted this was a worrying trend, adding the party would analyse the factors behind this.
Image: Representation picture