The Kerala government, headed by the parliamentary left bloc — Left Democratic Front (LDF) — with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) as the driving force, killed four suspected activists of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) or Maoists in a back-to-back encounter on 28 and 29 October 2019 at Attappadi forests of the state’s Palakkad district.
Kerala police’s Thunderbolt commandos, who are specially raised to combat working class and peasantry’s class struggles in Kerala, took part in the alleged encounter that the human rights groups have labelled as fake. The police claimed that the victims belonged to the Kabani Dalam that is trying to foray into the difficult, tribal-dominated terrains of the state. The woman is identified as Jothi from Karnataka, while one of the men is identified as Karthick from Tamil Nadu by the police; the other two weren’t identified.
Human rights groups alleged that the encounter was a fake one and the victims were executed by the elite commando force to help the CPI(M), that’s trying hard to win the largesse of the dominant feudal classes of rural Kerala before the 2021 assembly election. The Communist Party of India or the CPI, a constituent of the LDF, took a critical view of the encounters. While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the police shot dead the alleged Maoists in self-defence, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran took strong exception to the police action.
“Thunderbolt had fired at the Maoists from a close range when they were having food at a tent. Senior Maoist Manivasakam was so indisposed that he could not even walk. There should be a judicial probe into this fake encounter. We have obtained reliable information that the encounter was fake. The capital punishment given by Thunderbolt could not be agreed to at any cost,” Rajendran was quoted by The Indian Express.
Retired High Court judge Kemal Pasha accused that the Kerala Police might have been trying to divert attention from other issues. There has been an upheaval throughout Kerala’s democratic and progressive ecosystem over this blatant abuse of human rights by the CPI(M)-led LDF. Human rights activists marched in protest in Kozhikode on Tuesday, 29 October and were arrested. The CPI(M) is cracking the whip on any form of dissent over the alleged encounter, using verbiage from the Hindutva fascist camp.
The CPI(M) has been the most brutal party, apart from the Hindutva fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in suppressing leftwing-extremism. Earlier, in West Bengal, the party collaborated with the Congress party at different points in time to butcher those associated with the Naxalbari movement and later with the Maoist movement.
The Naxalbari movement was triggered by police firing on tribals of Darjeeling district in May 1967, when Jyoti Basu, the prominent CPI(M) leader and one of its nine founders, was the home minister. For its unapologetic subscription to state terrorism to combat Maoists, the CPI(M) had been appreciated by both Congress and the BJP in the past. The Maoists have stamped the CPI(M) as a social-fascist party in their campaigns and they treat it at par with fascist organisations like the BJP or the RSS.
Soon after the Kerala encounter, the LDF government arrested two CPI(M) workers — Alan Suhaib and Taha Fasal — under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or the UAPA, accusing them of being Maoist sympathisers, a claim that is opposed by human rights groups. The police claimed they have got Maoist literature from the possession of the duo.
While Suhaib is a law student, Fasal is a branch committee member of the CPI(M). This is the first time that the CPI(M) is booking its own cadres under the draconian UAPA. The CPI(M), which is running an Islamophobic regime in Kerala to appease the upper-caste Hindus and keep them at bay from the surging BJP-RSS, is frantically targeting vocal critics within its house to prove its anti-communist credentials to the ruling classes and retain its support base in the last province it’s ruling.
The killing of the four Maoists in Kerala’s Pallakad follows the similar modus operandi used by the BJP or the Congress-ruled states and the cliché of self-defence was peddled by the CPI(M)-led LDF as the narrative behind the alleged encounter, negating the claims of the human rights groups. The arrest of human rights activists and slapping of UAPA on CPI(M) activists, who allegedly possessed Maoist literature is a blatant violation of constitutional rights and the Supreme Court’s observation.
The Supreme Court earlier said that mere possession of Maoist literature doesn’t make one a Maoist. The apex court also ruled in 2011 that anyone speaking for human rights can’t be stamped as a Maoist, while the Kerala High Court on May 2015 passed a judgement that was later upheld in 2019 by a division bench but stayed by the Supreme Court in September 2019, which said that being Maoist isn’t a crime.
By following the BJP and the Congress and through its anti-communist and social-fascist actions, the CPI(M), whose cadres at the lowest rung have joined the BJP in large numbers in West Bengal, is proving that the party is keen to continue serving the interests of the Indian ruling classes and work as their docile tool. The alleged encounter and killing of suspected Maoists by Kerala’s commandos manifest how the ruling party has been fooling the people on its motto of combatting the Hindutva fascist menace.
The CPI(M) learned no lessons from its total routing from almost all states and even at its deathbed, it’s vociferously pushing the agenda of combatting left forces outside the parliamentary arena, who fight for the rights of the poor, the marginalised and the exploited people. The Kerala encounter that killed four Maoists will become another ignominy for the CPI(M) to carry ahead, always.