The Left-ruled Kerala is currently consumed by a frenzied debate on the gunning down of four suspected Maoists in a Palakkad forest and the subsequent arrest of two college students owing allegiance to the ruling CPM in Kozhikode under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for their alleged Maoist links.
The CPM is facing flak not only from the opposition and rights activists, but also from its ally CPI, which seems determined to put the government, of which it is a part, on the mat over the two issues. While the CPI sent a team to the encounter site and claimed the whole incident was stage-managed, the Congress, arguing for the release of the two arrested CPM activists, likened CM Pinarayi Vijayan to German dictator Adolf Hitler.
With politics overshadowing what are state attempts to crack down on extremism, the outcome may not be what is intended and the truth may never come out. On its part, the government must come clean on the charge that the encounter in which the four suspected Maoists were killed was staged by its police force. As required, it must order an inquiry by a magistrate or an independent agency and prove that the killings were really necessary and those killed were indeed Maoists with designs to carry out activities detrimental to the country. While extremism must be dealt with an iron hand and no effort should be spared to put an end to anti-national activities, there is no scope for violation of human rights and use of excessive force.
With regard to the Kozhikode arrests, the police must justify, with evidence, the invocation of the stringent law against two young students. For, what’s at stake is their future. Seizure of some objectionable posters or books, as claimed by the police, is hardly enough to defend such drastic action. But if there’s indeed evidence of their involvement in subversive activities, the government must not yield to any political pressure, from within or outside, to spare them. In essence, what we need now: a thorough investigation and a chance for the truth to come out.