The sun had already set when the body was bought amidst huge wave of mourners, to the house in Onchiyam, a village in Kozhikode district; the body covered in red, the face disfigured with the 51 hacks inflicted, a life lived and laid down for the ideals he upheld. The young son broke down at his dead father’s feet and the bereaved widow seeing her lifeless husband wailed out aloud “You can kill him, but you can’t defeat him”, an emotion echoed by the sea of supporters gathered around. And at 11:45pm, as the slain leader’s body was engulfed in flames, the people of Kerala bowed their heads not only in reverence to the departed soul, but also with shame and disgust at the abyss the state politics had plummeted into.
T P Chandrasekharan was an aberration in the current crop of political leaders. A staunch VS Achuthananthan supporter, he left CPM in 2008, questioning the party’s leadership and the dilution of its ideologies. He later formed the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) as a rival organization to the CPM in Onchiyam. The flow of CPM supporters to RMP and his party’s rousing performance in the Lok Sabha and panchayat elections, rattling the CPM in their fortresses, made him a thorn in the eye of CPM. He refused any coalition with CPI or UDF, sticking to the Marxist ideals that he strongly believed in, also forming the Left Co-ordination Council, an alternative to CPM. His strong leadership and his party’s widening of support, attracted threats to his life from many quarters.
The village of Onchiyam has seen enough of political martyrdom as has the state of Kerala. In fact, it is estimated that in the state which boasts of 100% literacy, the second-most cause of death after traffic accidents, is politics related. But the worst was yet to come. On Saturday, May 5th, Keralites who have been scared by the killing fields of Nadapuram, Irriti, Panur, Koothuparambu among others, woke up to the news of one of the most shocking and gruesome political butcheries in the state. On Friday, May 4th at around 10:15 pm, T P Chandrasekharan was attacked by a group of assailants on his way back home. The post mortem report says that he was hacked 51 times and with the exception of the two cuts on his hands, rest were on his face. The face as a result was mutilated beyond recognition and it was the ID card in his pocket that aided identification. As the life ebbed out of the bloodied body, Kerala added another name to her list of martyred sons.
The last breath abated and the blame games started. With the by-election in Neyyattinkara looming around the corner, the political moves began in full spate. The ruling UDF was quick to point fingers at the CPM, with the chief minister along with the KPCC President reiterating the accusations. The CPM denied the allegations vehemently and retaliated by charging the UDF of a conspiracy to tarnish their image. CPM state president Pinarayi Vijayan’s indifferent attitude to the visit of opposition leader VS Achuthanathan, who was the only noted CPM leader to pay his tributes, was criticized by many; most notably by Berlin Kunjanthan Nair, a staunch communist and an estranged party ideologue, who mourned the lack of respect CPM showed to Chandrasekharan even in his death.
As the parties wrestle each other with attacks and counter attacks, what the police investigation has so far revealed has been nothing short of shocking. Some of the evidences, according to the police, point to the political prisoners of Kannur central jail, who are out on parole, and the seven youths suspected for the crime have been identified. Five of the members of this quotation gang have been arrested. Neither the party affiliations of these youths nor the information whether these members were hired killers for a larger enemy have been divulged. The rumours regarding the absence of many CPM workers of Onchiyam from their homes on the fateful day raise questions of the party’s involvement. Over the years many who were charged with political murders have been acquitted by the courts and numerous other investigations have reached a dead end. Would the police rise above partisan political pressures and make a sincere inquiry to find those responsible for this brutal act, only time will tell.
For people of Kerala, politics is a passion; it is a compulsion, an intrinsic reality of their everyday existence. But the annihilation of the opposing and rival political believers, on streets or on campuses, has stretched the limits of barbarism to the extreme. Violence has become an epicentre of Kerala politics for quite some time now. What is conveniently forgotten is the human facet of these savageries, be it Fazal, Sunil Kumar or Chandrasekharan, all victims of their politics. For every single martyr the party glorifies, for every drop of blood splattered on the road, for every true belief that perishes to ashes, there is a son, a husband, a father lost forever.