TP Chandrashekharan’s Murder: Questions that Remain after One Year
Appukuttan Vallikunnu is an eminent political commentator in Kerala. He is a former state committee member of the CPI(M) and former associate editor of the party organ, Deshabhimani.
RMP leader Comrade T.P Chandrashekharan was brutally murdered near Onchiyam, in Kozhikode district of Kerala on May 4, 2012. His first death anniversary is being observed across the state by progressive and democratic minded people. Questions raised by TPC’s murder continue to remain unanswered by the CPI(M) leadership.
Who was behind T.P Chandrashekharan’s murder? It is for the Kerala leaders of the CPI(M) to give a simple and straight forward answer to this blood-stained question, on the first anniversary of his martyrdom. One year back, even as Chandrasekharan was bleeding to death on the wayside at Vallikkad with his 51 wounds, these leaders had stated: None of us has a hand in it, someone else has done it and we do not know who did it.
Nobody had actually asked the Kerala CPI(M) leaders, who have committed this crime. Without questioning even one of them, 74 persons have been accused in the murder case. All of them were CPI(M) insiders, including the killer gang hired for the purpose. The Kerala CPI(M) leaders, however, continue to swear that the accused have been wrongly and purposely framed.
As a response to popular sentiment, the central leadership of the CPI(M) had made a magnanimous assurance last year: the Party itself will conduct its own enquiry and take action if anyone is found guilty in any manner. The CPI(M) General Secretary has now confessed that this enquiry report has been received. Yet, the central leadership is not ready to disclose its findings and conclusions. Who committed the murder? Who was behind it? Who all stand absolved? All these questions remain unanswered from the CPI(M).
The CPI(M) Central Committee had stated the following in its communiqué issued on July 22, 2012:
“…the brutal murder of T.P. Chandrasekharan is being utilised to conduct a concerted campaign against the Party. The Central Committee condemned the efforts of the UDF government which has directed the police to falsely implicate Party leaders and cadres in this case. The Party has already declared that it is not involved in the murder of Chandrasekharan and had strongly condemned it. The Party does not believe in the elimination of political opponents.
The Party will conduct an enquiry into the matter to ascertain if there is any involvement of anyone associated with the Party in the incident. As stated earlier, firm action will be taken if anybody is found to be involved from the Party and any wrong trend if it exists in the Party will be put down firmly.”
As per the provisions of the Indian constitution, enquiries into murder cases, prosecution of the culprits and passing of verdicts are not the responsibilities entrusted with political parties. These are the responsibilities of the investigating agencies, public prosecutors and the courts of law. Nevertheless, the Kerala CPI(M) leadership has been alleging – rather inconsistently – that the liquor mafia, PC George (the Chief Whip of UDF) and the MLA, Selvaraj (a CPI(M) deserter) were behind the murder conspiracy and Rs.35 lakhs were paid to the murderers as a reward.
If the leaders and cadres of the CPI(M) have been arrested with the mala fide intention of maligning the Left movement, the CPI(M) leadership had a moral obligation in helping to identify and arrest the real conspirators and culprits, as alleged by it. The truth is that the party was providing shelter to the members of the killer gang which killed Chandrasekharan, in its own offices and in the uninhabited mountains of Kannur, from where they were finally arrested. A prominent CPI(M) leader evaded arrest for several days by changing the shelters and finally surrendered directly before the court. Even witnesses who made confessions, not only before the police but also before the judicial magistrate, have turned hostile under coercion by party leaders.
Since 1957, the government in Kerala has been led by the undivided Communist party and later the CPI(M), on several occasions. Several persons, both political as well as non-political, got murdered when the Left was in office. Political murders also took place when the CPI(M) was in the opposition. In all such murder cases, it was the police which investigated and arrested the culprits, and the courts which tried them. The accused were punished or acquitted, based on evidence. No alternative mechanism of enquiry or trial was resorted to, or even proposed by the CPI(M), in any of the murder cases in the past.
Today, the CPI(M) in Kerala is using its media power to discredit the prosecution and trial procedures and intimidate the witnesses. Such tactics were never used by any political party in Kerala in the past, including the CPI(M). There were numerous legal and constitutional options open for the party, if it were so very sure that somebody else has committed this murder; which has been repeatedly described as a dastardly and gruesome act by its own leaders. It could have used its media power to expose the real culprits and mobilised public opinion to pressurize the government to book them. Why did the CPI(M) leadership in Kerala not have the courage to take such politically correct initiatives?
In the infamous case of P. Rajan, an engineering student who was brutally killed by the police through custodial torture in Kerala during the Emergency, thethen Chief Minister from the Congress K. Karunakaran, the home secretary and the police chiefs had resorted to outright lies in order to save their own skins. It was the Deshabhimani, CPI(M)’s party organ, which had brought out the facts of the case one by one, and sensitised the civil society against the atrocities committed during the Emergency. The culprits were also brought to justice. Why has the CPI(M) failed to live up to such noble traditions of the revolutionary movement? Instead, the Kerala leaders of the CPI(M) have been busy trying to obstruct the course of justice in myriad ways.
It is true that T.P. Chandrasekharan had deserted the CPI(M) and had formed a new party, the RMP. But that does not give anyone the right to kill him. As a party that leads the opposition in Kerala, the CPI(M) has the moral responsibility to expose the culprits who have violated T.P. Chandrashekharan’s fundamental right to live, which was guaranteed by article 21 of the Indian constitution, and ensure that they are brought to justice.
Who was behind the murder of T.P. Chandrashekharan? Or, has the CPI(M) leadership arrived at a conclusion that nobody did it? Let me quote a few lines from a famous poem by Satchidanandan, titled Bali (The Sacrifice):
None of them did it
Friends and comrades
I got it done myself
I have betrayed myself.
I myself took the money
Sharpened the knife, all by myself,
Then, I gave myself in sacrifice.
These lines are still writ large within the blood stains on the wayside of Vallikkad. CPI(M) leaders can derive some peace and satisfaction by collectively reciting these lines when they meet in the next committee meeting.
During his visit to Kerala few days after the murder, Prakash Karat had himself stated in a speech made in Kannur on May 19, 2012:
“A few days ago, T.P. Chandrashekharan, a former member of the Party and the leader of a political group in Kozhikode district was brutally murdered. We condemn this heinous killing unreservedly. Utilising this murder, the Congress and the UDF and a section of the media have launched a vicious campaign to defame the CPI(M) and to portray the Party as a Party of killers and those who indulge in the politics of murder. There has to be a full investigation into this crime and to identify those responsible and to bring them to justice.”
Now the CPI(M) leaders are saying that they have no faith in the Kerala police. Nor are they ready for a CBI investigation. Then who could be entrusted with the task of unearthing the truth behind T.P. Chandrashekharan’s murder? What sort of an impartial or truthful enquiry mechanism would be acceptable to the CPI(M)? Only a party enquiry commission?
The CPI(M) leadership is perhaps under the illusion that the issue will die out over time, just like the mortal remains of Chandrashekharan. But they are wrong. They should remember that the people are watching all their doings and realising the truth. The piercing questions that have been raised by lakhs of people after Chandrashekharan’s murder have to be answered; they cannot be smashed into nothingness through organisational might and devious propaganda. Sleepless and disquieting days are ahead for the Kerala leaders of the CPI(M). For this, they are themselves responsible.