Kannur Violence: Centre Needs To Send Stern Note To Kerala Chief Minister Under Article 355



Kannur Violence: Centre Needs To Send Stern Note To Kerala Chief Minister Under Article 355Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Snapshot
  • If the activities of any random gau rakshak can be pinned on the BJP and Narendra Modi, surely the Kannur violence can be pinned on Vijayan’s willingness to turn a blind eye to it.

The continuing political violence between Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadres in Kerala’s Kannur district, backyard of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, clearly mandates both central and judicial intervention.

Around mid-February, an RSS-BJP worker, Sujith, was brutally killed in front of his parents, who also sustained injuries while trying to protect their son. This is only the latest incident in the decades-old murderous enmity between Left and Right in Kerala, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 250 people.

While both parties must share some of the blame for these tit-for-tat murders, the ruling CPI-M government must be held fully accountable for not doing its job. Law and order is a state subject, but that does not mean the centre and the courts must sit on the sidelines and wring their hands in despair. To be sure, Article 356 – earlier misused by the Congress to remove opposition governments – cannot be used any longer to discipline state governments that are not fulfilling their constitutional duties, but surely there is a case for Article 355 to come into play.

Article 355 says that it is the “duty of the Union to protect states against external aggression and internal disturbance. It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every state against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

At the very least, the centre should issue a note asking Pinarayi Vijayan why he is not able to control the violence. It can also offer central police support to maintain peace.

On the other hand, it is surprising that no public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court to set up a special investigation team (SIT) which can study and monitor the violence and make its recommendations. Is it because the Left is the target this time that the eco-system is keeping quiet?

If SITs can be set up for Gujarat and the post-Indira Gandhi assassination violence in 1984, surely Kerala’s multi-decade cycle of violence also calls for the same treatment.

While there has been some recent media coverage of the Kannur violence, the attempt has been to create false equivalence between the violence of the CPI-M and the RSS. It is worth noting that the Bharatiya Janata Party has only one MLA in the assembly, and the CPI-M has state power on its side.

It needs no genius to figure out who is more culpable.

That the CPI-M has a history on violence in both the states it has ruled – West Bengal and Kerala – tells us the backstory. Former CPI-M MP, A P Abdullakutty, wrote some time back that Vijayan had backed the idea of eliminating political opponents, but in the West Bengal way, without visible bloodshed. The Bengal line of murder, according to Abdullakutty, was about abduction, and quietly burying them with bags of salt, so that no one will ever know a killing happened.

We don’t know if Vijayan still believes in this type of political murder, but some party colleagues have openly boasted that they had eliminated political rivals in the past. Leaving that aside, if Vijayan, as Chief Minister, is not able to control the violence and bring peace, he is effectively complicit in the Kannur violence. Not least because his party is the bigger part of the problem. If the activities of any random gau rakshak can be pinned on the BJP and Narendra Modi, surely the Kannur violence can be pinned on Vijayan’s willingness to turn a blind eye to it.

It is high time the Centre sent him a strong missive under Article 355, and it is equally time for a PIL to be filed in the Supreme Court on these murders.

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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