Kerala police interrogate controversial CPM leader MM Mani
Denies role in political murders, says his speech was aimed at building cadres’ confidence
Controversial CPM leader MM Mani appeared before the police for interrogation on Wednesday 4 July, in Thodupuzha for interrogation in connection to his controversial speech that the party murdered its foes in Idukki district. According to a senior police official, during the interrogation, Mani denied a role in the conspiracy or execution of the alleged political murders that rocked Idukki district in 80s and 90s.
According to the police official who is a part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), Mani also played down his controversial speech at party meeting held at Mannakkad on 25 May. “When we sought specific information about the speech, he said it was made to boost the morale of party workers assembled there. He also stated that he had never conspired or engineered political murders in Idukki or elsewhere,” said the official.
Mani also explained the circumstances that led to the party meeting being held in the village. “The media campaigns against CPM forced the local party units to explain to the cadres why ill-motivated campaigns are against the party after TP Chandrasekharan’s murder in Onchiyam. I spoke at length explaining to the cadres how the party had resisted the onslaught masterminded by our political foes and established a base in Idukki,” Mani told the investigating officials.
According to Mani’s supporters he wants to fight the case politically and avoid further police action. On 3 July, the police had served an ultimatum 3 to Mani’s wife that he would be arrested if he failed to turn up before the (SIT) by 10 am on Wednesday. Mani accompanied by two CPM Legislators from Idukki reached Thodupuzha Deputy Superintendent Police office four minutes before the deadline ended.
According to a senior police official, the police had been tracking Mani since 2 June. “We would have arrested him if he had not turned up today. The High Court of Kerala had rejected his petition,” said a police official.
Mani had approached Supreme Court to quash the FIR filed against him in a murder cases after his controversial speech was aired by television channels. He had requested the SIT, through his lawyers, that he be granted 10 days’ exemption from appearing for interrogation. The police rejected his plea.
According to party sources, Mani had escaped to a resort in Munnar for the past two days. This was confirmed by the Police “He had left Munnar with S Rajendran, CPM legislator representing Devikolam constituency,” said the official. On his part, Mani on his arrival at dy SP’s office, told the assembled media that he was at home and the party had directed him to appear for interrogation.
Meanwhile, CPM Idukki district committee has decided to collect funds to meet Mani’s legal expenses. The district committee has entrusted KK Jayachandran MLA and district secretary of CPM and S Rajendran MLA to oversee the collection of funds. “We will explore all possible legal measures to protect Mani. We don’t subscribe the media’s mudslinging campaign against the party,” Jayachandran, district told Tehelka.
Controversial CPM leader MM Mani skips police interrogation yet again
He had stated that the party had made a list of, and eliminated political foes in Idukki district
Former CPM Idukki district secretary MM Mani, who had stirred a hornet's nest through his controversial speech where he had said that in 1980s the party had a list of rivals to be eliminated and three of them were even killed, skipped police interrogation for the second time on Monday 2 July. Mani, who had been summoned by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Kerala police failed to appear for the interrogation. Soon, after this speech he was sacked from his district secretary post. On Monday Mani’s lawyers appeared before the investigation team and requested a ten-day extension of the deadline to appear before the SIT. According to his lawyers, Mani will approach the Supreme Court, seeking a stay against the notice issued by the SIT.
However, the police team headed by P Prakash, Superintendent of Police, denied any extension for Mani. Police officials indicated that Mani could be arrested soon. “We have given him time and issued a notice for interrogation for the second time. He is trying to evade arrest and interrogation. We can’t allow such a delay in the investigation,” said Prakash. Police officials discussed the future course of action against Mani and have decided to arrest him at the earliest, say sources.
Police team raided Mani’s house in Rajakkad in Idukki district on Monday afternoon, but could not find him. Mani made a statement on 26 May 2012 at local party meeting that CPM had eliminated its political foes by executing a series of political murders in Idukki district. He had also revealed the real culprits were never arrested by the police. Earlier, the SIT had issued notice under section 91 of CrPc to MM Mani to appear before the police on 6 June. However, Mani evaded police interrogation saying he was exploring legal remedies. He approached the judicial magistrate’s court in Thodupuzha to quash the first information report filed against him after his controversial speech.
Later, the High Court of Kerala also rejected his petition to quash the FIR, with a strong note. While dismissing the petition, Justice S Satishchandran of Kerala High Court on 28 June said the speech and the revelations prima facie discloses commission of cognisable offence, which fully justifies registration of crime. The Judge also gave a green signal for the SIT to proceed on the investigation.
"Right to dissent guaranteed in the Republic governed by democracy is met with a brutal force, and the dissenter is annihilated, whether it be as a retaliatory measure on the attacks made on one's partymen or group and if it is not checked, then it will sound the death knell of democracy," the court observed.
More than the scathing remarks against political murders engineered by the politicians, the court termed the trend as brutal and uncivilised. "Shocking revelations by Mani in his speech that brutal murders of some political activists opposed to his party while he was district secretary, was part of a sinister diabolical plan after a list was prepared by him to annihilate political opponents," the court said. Police had registered cases against Mani and five others on the basis of the disclosures, including one pertaining to the murder of a Congress worker who was shot dead on 13 November 1982.
On Monday morning Mani was expected to appear before the police for interrogation. However, even as the media camped outside the office of Deputy Superindendent of police, Thodupuzha, Mani changed his plans. He sent his lawyers to appear before the police. According to Sebastian Paul, Supreme Court lawyer, Mani has only one option to surrender before the police and undergo interrogation.
Kerala High Court advocate, A Jayashanker said Mani’s actions were putting the CPM on the defensive and the party was losing its credibility. “The CPM leadership in Kerala has repeatedly said that their partymen will cooperate with the police. Mani has been buying time for the past 40 days,” said Jayashanker.
Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.