This is an open letter in response to the highly biased write up of JNU prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy about the political violence in Kannur, a northern district of Kerala.
Dear Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy,
I read your piece in dailyo.in about the political violence in Kannur o titled “Why isn’t Kerala cracking down on RSS and CPM’s bloody war in Kannur?” I was dismayed to see that the article has completely ignored the ground reality. I do not see any difference in how certain corporate media portrays Kannur and what you have written in this above mentioned piece. As a person who has grown up in that district and also had to face the physical attacks and murder threats many times from the Sangh brigade, let me respond to certain arguments you are making.
As a former student of you, I am terribly disturbed that the arguments advanced about the cause of the violence come out to be baseless, one-sided, and utterly false except that they fit into the Sangh script. I hope you will find certain time to visit Kannur and source the facts from the ground. I would affirm that, it is not a ‘dark area’, as you chose to describe Kannur in the article. I am confident enough to say, one will find it difficult to find a district in this country which has more number of public libraries than Kannur. I have the same level of confidence to say that you will be surprised to count the number of arts clubs and cultural platforms and the vibrancy in their functioning in each locality of the district. It is also a place in this country where collective social entrepreneurship in the form of co-operatives provides employment to the largest number of people. Let me also state that you will fail to prove that it is in Kannur that the most number of murders are happening. I don’t know who is providing you the information about this place or you just chose to believe what you have read in the right wing corporate media. Anyways, you must spend some days in Kannur. Let me offer you one of a the most fascinating experiences both as a political scientist and also as a peace loving human. Try it, it will cost only your biases and prejudices. Here, I am only attempting to show the irrationality of the testimonials you presented in the article.
In the sub-title to the article, you write that once the truth comes out, many in the country will wonder how all this went on for so long. If people of great credential like you are presenting the matters like this, I am disappointed to say that the country may take a long time to learn the truth. Fortunately, we, who live in Kannur have our lives to assess [definitely not to wonder] why this is so than waiting for your theories written from the glass houses. In the first statement itself you are reproducing a rightwing argument that whether ruled by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) or the United Democratic Front (UDF), the social welfare system was maintained and efforts were made to improve the living conditions of the poor!! Don’t you think that making this general statement and equalizing the role of left and right in improving the living conditions of the poor, you are committing an injustice to the history of Kerala which was filled with agrarian struggles and communist movements for equal rights and dignity? I thought at least your long time association with CPI must have taught you about the land reform and education bill. You seem to be clueless about how the communists ensured the continuity of the social reform movement of Narayana Guru, Ayyankali, Poykayil Appachan etc. I can only wish you go through the works of your peers. For that matter, I do not think your colleagues in CPI will have any other opinion.
Have you ever tried to trace out the background of the widely talked ‘violence’ in Kannur? Is it started all of a sudden at some point in the history? If so, why Kannur? Enquiry about this will lead you to late 60s, the time when Sangh Parivar planned its entry to Kannur as the henchmen of the owners of the Ganesh Beedi company which was based in Mangalore. This company got frustrated in EMS government’s decision to implement welfare fund for Beedi workers who were paid very low. The workers who were unionized by the Communist party stood vehemently for their rights. It provoked the Mangalore based company and they brought their criminal gang to attack the protesting workers. They also attempted to destroy the unity of the workers by making another union which will dance at the tune of the company. They also dismissed the Left trade union members. Company was also closed for some time to put the weaken the living conditions of the poor workers and force them to surrender before the company. But the Communist party, breaking the calculations of Sangh brigade, formed a co-operative firm for beedi production called ‘Dinesh beedi’. This actually aggravated the annoyance of the Ganesh company and they send its allies to physically attack the beedi workers who stands with the Communist party. The Beedi production units were attacked several times. Like what happened in Mumbai or Italy or Germany, the Sangh parivar fascists came to the picture by attacking the trade unions workers unity in Kannur. The first attempt to destroy the powerful trade unionism was resisted. Then they tried to foment communal violence for expanding their roots. That is how they planned Thalassery riot by spreading hatred against Muslims. You must get a copy of Justice Vithayathil Commission report which enquired about the riot and understand the role of CPIM under the leadership of the current chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in defeating the divisive communal agenda of RSS. You will also get to know about UK Kunhiraman, a CPIM Branch secretary who was killed by RSS for protecting a mosque. You will see the incidents of unleashing communal violence wherever the fascists have planned an entry. This is what was fought and defeated by the CPIM in Kannur. Since then, after failing two different plans to make inroads to the region, the RSS turned into a planof physical annihilation of CPIM activists in the district and it continues still.
You must be aware of the number of Shakhas RSS has in Gujarat. It is less than 1800. In UP, one of the largest states in the country, RSS has less than 4000 Shakhas. In Karnataka the number is less than 3000. Remember the criminal roles they played, genocides they unleashed, riots they organized in all these states. Do you know how many Shakhas they have in small Kerala? It is more than 4500! That is the organizational strength that they have built in Kerala over the decades with a planned agenda to infiltrate into the social lives of Kerala. I hope, as a serious political commentator you must have studied RSS and learned how much plan and focused work is behind the building of any Sangh Parivar outfit. Still they could not repeat a Gujarat genocide in Kerala, They failed to do what they did in Kandhamal or different parts of Karnataka. We have seen the series of communal riots in UP prior to last Loksabha elections and BJP winning huge majority of the seats after that. Kerala is, even with their strongest organizational machinery, still far from being a stage for the Sangh strategy of gaining ground through generating communal tensions. You will understand that this is not an ‘innocent’ development once you study the different attempts made by Sangh organizations to communally polarize the state or disturb the secular fabric in various times in the past. I can write a very long note only on this. RSS in Kerala is not a different species, something different from their counterparts in other parts of the country. They follow the same strategy of aggression. All those efforts were resisted tooth and nail and defeated in Kerala. You can never dismiss the role of the left led by CPIM in successfully blocking the Sangh agenda to be in a driving seat of the social fabric if the state. I hope you agree with me in that social atmosphere and people’s lives in Kerala is not a violent one. If violence is the character of the strongest party which forms government at the state, Kerala would have turned into a war zone long before. But then why when RSS enter the picture there is bloodshed and murders on both the sides? This question must not be answered with a generalized notion of ‘gang war’ in Kannur. This has nothing to do with ‘genetics’, but definitely with politics. For that one must study how RSS infiltrated into the different parts of the country and have a comparison with Kannur. I sincerely wish, our political sciences studies and researchers grow up to that level, instead of putting out uncritical equalizations and practicing selective ‘amnesia’.
In another part you say the ‘CPI(M) and the RSS have done politics in other states. There, if there was any killing, the law intervened’. It sounds as if the people are in a free run to kill each other in Kannur. You should have at least looked into the case diaries, or the number of people arrested in political murders before making such statements.. CPIM is the largest political party in terms of its influence among the masses, number of seats in the assembly and also with a very wide and strong organisational presence throughout Kerala. Kannur is the strongest bastion where 54% voted for the Left in last election. RSS is lacking in both electoral arena and influence in determining the social dynamics. But they do have a very strong organizational machinery. Still, the number of CPIM cadres killed by RSS outnumbers the other one. This can be ended only with a high level decision of RSS to stop the attempt to infiltrate into Kerala with the violent methods.
Do you really think such politics is happening only in Kannur? Or are you in a belief that law is intervening in similar incidents in other states. 15 years is not an enough time for a concerned individual to forget the manner law found its place in Gujarat. Hope you correct such highly irresponsible comments. You must also not think whatever does not comes to your notice or does not shake your conscience is not happening. Around 13 Sangh Parivar activists were killed by other Sangh cadres in Karnataka including one Hindu Jagran Vedika activist getting killed recently in Mangalore. I have the complete list of this heinous crimes committed by Sangh workers against their own colleagues. How long more will it take to shake the ‘collective conscience’ of the nation?
Let me conclude citing another dangerous element in your statement presented as an ‘innocent’ one. You refer to an incident of one school teacher hacked to death in classroom. I have no issue in anybody talking about this barbaric incident. All the political killings, irrespective of parties involved in it, must be condemned. But the people like you must not limit yourselves to depend on the news which was circulated consciously and selectively. Why a student leader, named KV Sudheesh, is hacked to death in front of his parents at his home doesn’t come to your mind when you pick up the examples? ‘A brick would have fit in many of the wounds in his body’ this was the comment of the doctor who did postmortem of his dead body which was cut into pieces by the RSS criminals. It was last year, an 8 year old Fahad was killed by a hindu religious fanatic who was a cadre of RSS in the nearest district. Two of my close friends have lost their fathers in murderous attacks of RSS. You will never refer the name of my friend Dhanaraj who was killed in front of his wife at his home few months ago. The day you wrote the article, one DYFI activist called Muhsin was hacked to death in Alappuzha. In an another shocking development one BJP worker Nirmal was killed by an another BJP worker in Thrissur. BJP called a hartal against CPIM after this murder! It was only few days back, ne Sharirik Shikshak Pramukh of RSS, Vishnu, came out openly and said he was threatened to death for speaking out against the murderous plans of his own organization. He was under the custody of RSS and tortured for long 38 days. He was also forced to write a suicide note alleging a CPIM leader, Kannur district secretary to be specific, is behind his death. You can have a talk with him if want to know what is happening inside the Saffron contingents. This list will never end. All I wanted to say is, there must be no space for violence in politics. But, we must not commit a grave mistake by thinking political violence happens only when two parties involved. You must at least go through the history of RSS and read what Golwalkar talks about communists in the ‘Bunch of thoughts’. I’m not done, but I stop here. And I do welcome a detailed debate if you choose to reply. Or let us have an united effort to expose the cellars of the saffron inferno.