Why is it only happening in Kerala and for so long?
In the past two weeks there have been two incidents of political violence in Kerala against RSS/BJP workers that have been bone chilling and deviated from the normal violence, brutal as it has been. In these two instances, all three victims have been killed in their homes. The home is no longer a sanctuary for political opponents in Kerala. This state facilitated politicide has a long history but it intensifies every time the CPM returns to power, its cadre, encouraged in speech and silence by the party leadership extracts revenge from all political opponents. There has been a tendency to frame this conversation in binaries, as one of CPM vs RSS and thereby provide some moral relativism to the issue, setting aside, hard facts and cold bodies, that attest to the fact that every political party faces the ire of “The Party” when it is in power, be it the Congress, PFI, BJP and even other dissenting communists. The numbers may vary but the oppression is consistent.
In a system where law and justice agencies are controlled by politicians, every trick is used to bend circumstances and reality to suit this murderous agenda. There are examples of when even party run co-operative banks are manipulated to pressurise survivors of violence from pursuing justice, if they have a loan pending. Every institution is used to perpetuate the silence and injustice in the face of daily terror. Furthermore, the relative silence of the media —in the state and at the national level has ensured that this rule of terror continues unabated and spared any censor. So compelling have these circumstances been that prime minister Modi, on the campaign trail in Kerala this past year for Sadanandan Master, a man whose legs were chopped off by CPM workers, asked the media in Delhi to wake up and report these incidents. For all the spin around a compromised media in the Modi era, his impassioned appeal had few takers.
The reason is obvious, seen as this is viewed only from the RSS/BJP vs CPM spectrum, these killings don’t make news as they don’t fit into the “fascist” narrative. Then there is the moral relativism, the absolving resignation of they are all killing each other. When I first became aware of the political violence in Kerala, I was amazed that it had existed for decades and yet was hardly ever spoken of. In the time I have pursued these stories, reached out to some to cover them, there has usually been resistance barring a few exceptions. No one wants to present all the dimensions of the conflict, even a non partisan perspective. I am asked why I speak of one side of the story. It is because this is the side that has faced unceasing brutalisation, never had access to political power in a deeply politicised state, has not had access to justice and is characterised by the larger narrative as fascist and hence in a sense deserving of this savagery.
The silence, the need to ignore facts and perpetuate an image has caused far too many deaths. Where do fascists especially in power at the centre with an empowering mandate get butchered like this? How many states have the BJP in power? Is this the fate their political opponents meet in those states? Why is it only happening in Kerala and for so long? What ideology has perpetuated similar violence in Bengal, another state known for political violence? Most of the mass killings of the last century share which ideology in common? Even a brief study of political conflict in the 20th century provide this answer. Why is no one exploring these questions and calling it out? How do you undo decades of spin when even savagery and brutalised bodies are not enough? Who all have through the decades facilitated this metastasis and made retaliation the only form of defence? Why was Sanjay Kumar Gurudin, a tough cop and SP of Kannur who ran into trouble with the CPM (media reports) transferred? He had among other measures taken a tough stance on political violence. And post his transfer, almost immediately, Santosh a BJP worker who dared stand for a local body election was killed in his home in the chief minister’s constituency in Kannur.
The CPM and the intellectual cabal that backs them look for fascist utterances in speeches and pages of books to make their case, what of the very real blood on the streets and on hands of ideological companions? Why must retaliation in a free, democratic India be a form of defence? All political violence must be condemned and censured, but to not identify the oppressors, the perpetrators, their presence in every conflict of this nature, be it in Bengal or Kerala, and the very real violence this ideology has inflicted on people the world over, is not merely intellectual dishonesty but also a moral failing.
(Advaita Kala is a screenwriter and a columnist)
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