Celebrating culture of violence must end

The belief that violence, even murder, is justified in an ideological fight is symptomatic of an ugly culture that has become a part of Kerala politics.
Flex board displaying gory photographs of slain Youth Congress worker Shuhaib in Kannur
Flex board displaying gory photographs of slain Youth Congress worker Shuhaib in Kannur (File Photo| Express)

Political violence is not new to Kerala. Yet, when a party celebrates the culture of violence, openly patronises criminal elements, and hails those killed while indulging in or preparing for violence as martyrs, it strikes a disturbing note. Building a memorial for two CPM workers who died while making country bombs at Chettakkandi in Kannur district in 2015 is an act that comes across as irresponsible and sends out a wrong message. It must be noted that Kannur has a shameful history of political violence. Country bombs have been used liberally by all parties in North Kerala and many of their workers have been either killed or maimed in accidental explosions. Such bombs hidden and left abandoned have caused serious harm to innocent people.

The CPM had initially claimed it had nothing to do with the incident. But it is the party’s local leaders who procured land and collected funds for the memorial. P Jayarajan, CPM strongman and the party’s former Kannur district secretary, justified the memorial saying the two workers had laid down their lives in the fight against ‘fascists’. Jayarajan blamed the media and political opponents for remaining silent when the BJP-RSS erected memorials for their cadres who also died in a similar manner.

The belief that violence, even murder, is justified in an ideological fight is symptomatic of an ugly culture that has become a part of Kerala politics. Here, lives do not matter, cadres are expected to sacrifice themselves in the interests of parties, and opponents seem to have no right to practise their politics or stay alive. For example, after a CPM-linked man died while making bombs at Pannur in Kannur district on April 5 ahead of the polling in Kerala, the noise was purely political and the debate was about how it would impact elections. No thought was spared for the life lost.

Whatever be the justification, glorifying people involved in a criminal act does not behove a party that is leading the ruling front in the state. Such acts will only encourage the criminals within, because they create an impression that the party will remain with them in all eventualities. The CPM should take extra care to ensure that the tenuous peace established in the region through difficult processes is not disturbed.

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