TP Chandrasekharan murder: CPI(M) state unit on the defensive
Police claim to have identified the assailants, say a seven-member gang was hired for the murder
The blood stains on the village road in Vallikad in Kozhikode district of Kerala remain visible even after three days, a gory reminder of the brutal killing of rebel Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) leader TP Chandrasekharan. While the party leaders are pleading innocence in the murder, a section of the cadre is not convinced. Chandrasekharan’s murder is now posing a threat to CPI(M) in Neyyattinkara by-poll elections scheduled on 2 June.
In Neyyattinkara, former CPI(M) Legislator R Selvaraj has resigned from the Assembly and is contesting the by-poll elections on a Congress ticket. In what seems to be a damage-control mode, the party leaders are now trying their best to distance themselves from Chandrasekharan’s murder.
Former minister and a legislator Elamaram Kareem and P Viswan met Kerala home minister Thiruvanchiyur Radhakrishnan and offered their support for a fair probe in the Chandrasekharan murder case. “I told the home minister that CPI(M) has nothing to hide and will support the ongoing police investigation. We want the conspiracy behind the murder to be exposed,” Kareem told TEHELKA. However, critics feel that the CPI(M) state leadership has deployed the legislators as a clever move to distance themselves from the murder.
“It’s a ploy and CPI(M) can never wash its hands off this political murder. They annihilate political enemies and have done it several times,” said Ramesh Chennithala, President, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
Chandrasekharan’s murder has given Congress a sharp political weapon in Neyyatinkara and both Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and other Congress leaders are using it to their advantage in the by-poll campaign.
Meanwhile, the special investigation team headed by Additional Director General of Police Vinson M Paul has zeroed in on a seven-member gang who was hired for the murder. “Our investigation is progressing. We have recovered the vehicle used by the criminals and identified the assailants,” said Paul who is camping in Kozhikode to head the investigation.
According to a police source, the seven-member gang was paid Rs 35 lakh to kill Chandrashekharan. “We have tracked their mobile numbers and know they fled to Karnataka and later to Mumbai after committing the crime. We also found out that they have executed the murder with great planning and support of some local people,’ said the official.
Chandrashekharan was hacked to death on Friday night when he was returning home. Police has interrogated the person who had called Chandrasekharan on his cell phone and asked him to reach a destination where the criminals were waiting for him in ambush.
“We always feared that he would be killed, but he never cared for his life. He was concerned about his party comrades who were attacked frequently,” said Sethumadhavan, brother of Chandrashekharan. Chandrasekharan had met Oommen Chandy and briefed him about the series of attacks on his comrades in Onchiyam who deserted CPI(M) to join his movement.
Chandrasekharan, 51, challenged CPI (M) leadership with his popularity among the people. He joined SFI and later became a leader of DYFI. A graduate in political science, he chose to be a full time politician. “He was a man of conviction and courage. He fought for what he believed in. I salute the comrade,” said Simon Britto, former legislator and SFI leader. Britto had come to Onchiyam to pay homage to his friend and comrade braving party diktats. Chandrasekharan was former area secretary of the CPI(M) in Onchiyam, a red citadel in Kerala. He left the party in 2008 to float.
Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) that destabilised CPI(M) base in the area and led to the defeat of party candidates in all the elections in the last four years. “Even after quitting the party, he used to call me. I’m pained and sad,’ Britto added. Britto is regarded as a legend among the SFI leaders and has been wheelchair bound since 1983 after he was stabbed by Kerala Students Union hired criminals in the campus.
Onchiyam, lost its CPI(M) base after Chandrasekharan revolted against the leadership who decided to hand over the panchayat administration of its stronghold Eramala to Janata Dal (Secular). Chandrasekharan and his followers objected and later quit the party in protest against the unilateral decision.
“He was an energetic man who took risks. After the Lok Sabha elections, CPI(M) wanted to bring him back to party and P Jayarajan, District Secretary of Kannur had tried for a truce. He told us that CPI(M) is not the party he wanted to work for and could never deviate from what he believed,” said N Venugopal, secretary, Eramala local committee, RMP.
“We have built our movement based on trust, Chandrasekharan could convince our people and they loved him. The CPI(M) leadership has realised that the political murder was a blunder and they are going to pay a heavy price for it. The villagers in Onchiyam are not going to be silenced. They have fought for years for the party and have the guts to fight against the party,” he added.
Chandrasekharan’s widow Rema, minces no words. “Why did they kill him? He was such a sweet person who loved all. I don’t want sympathy. They can kill him but never defeat him. Our struggle will go on forever, because he fought for right cause. The people of Onchium will carry forward his struggle.”
Jeemon Jacob is Chief of Bureau, South with Tehelka.