Kerala, Feb 18, 2019: The opposition Congress has called a 12-hour shut down in Kerala on Monday to protest the killing of two Youth Congress workers in north Kerala’s Kasargode district, notorious for political murders, on Sunday.
The Congress party has alleged Kripesh, 21, and Sharath Lal, 24, were waylaid and hacked to death by a group of CPI(M) workers.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi condemned the murder of the two party workers. “The Congress Party stands in solidarity with the families of these two young men & I send them mu deepest condolences. We will not rest till the murderers are brought to justice,” he tweeted.
They were attacked by unknown men when they were returning to their homes in Periya village on a motorcycle. Kripesh died on the spot and Lal succumbed to his injuries in a hospital in neighbouring Mangaluru, police said.
Initially, the Congress party called a shutdown in the district but later decided to extend it to the entire state.
Police said there were some skirmishes between Congress and CPI(M) workers a couple of days back and they suspect the latest murders as a fallout of them. Two weeks ago, the CPI(M) Periya branch secretary P Peethambaran and two workers were injured in a clash between Congress and CPI(M) workers.
“CPI(M) activists are behind this dastardly attack. Going by accounts of witnesses it is well-planned and executed political murders. It is sad the party still feels it can silence its political opponents by annihilating them,“ chief of Congress’ Kerala unit Mullapally Ramachandran, who suspended his statewide ‘Janmaha Yatra” in the wake of murders and rushed to Kasargode, said.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala also condemned the murders and said he will visit the district on Tuesday.
“It is sad the ruling party is systematically annihilating political opponents. The CPM(M) will have to pay a heavy price for its politics of dagger,” said Chennithala.
The ruling CPI(M) denied any role in the deaths, saying some personal enmity between two groups led to the killings but the Congress reiterated that they were cold-blooded political murders.
The ruling party said in a statement that it condemned the murders and demanded a high-level probe to book the real assailants.
The murders come at a time when the Congress observed the first death anniversary of Youth Congress activist Shuhaib, who was hacked to dead allegedly by CPI(M) men. Though the ruling party distanced itself from Shuhaib’s murder, all those arrested were active workers and office-bearers.
Shuhaib, Youth Congress’ Mattanoor block secretary, was attacked by a group of alleged CPI(M) workers with sharp-edged weapons after hurling country-made bombs on February 12 last year and a day after he succumbed to his injuries. During the post-mortem examination, it was found that he received 37 stab wounds.
North Kerala’s Kannur and Kasargode districts have witnessed many political murders, often triggered by intolerance. In Kannur, more than 300 workers of both Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and CPI(M) have been killed in a bloody race for political supremacy in the last three decades.
During a visit to Kannur in October last year, BJP president Amit Shah had said a visit to the district was a pilgrimage for party workers because many had laid down their lives for believing in an ideology dear to their hearts.
Kerala HC takes case against Youth Congress for calling hartal
Kochi, Feb 18 2019: The Kerala High Court has taken a suo motu case against the Youth Congress (YC) for calling an impromptu hartal in the state after two of its workers were killed in Kasaragod Sunday night.
The YC called for the hartal in the wee hours of Monday. The sudden call for hartal is in violation of the HC ruling that said no strike can be called in the state without a prior notice of at least seven days. The HC on Monday said YC’s call for hartal amounted to contempt of court.
Meanwhile, the YC state president Dean Kuriakose said that the party would fight the case legally.
"The court is liable to protect the lives of the citizens. Two of our innocent colleagues were brutally hacked to death," he added.
The Kerala HC had January ruled that political parties, organisations and individuals who call for hartals were bound to give seven days’ prior notice.
The court made the comment while hearing a petition moved by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Thrissur-based NGO ’Malayala vedi against hartals’ against shutdowns in the state.
The court further said that organisations and individuals, who call for hartal, shall be responsible for loss and damages caused on account of the shutdown.
It said in the absence of adequate enactments, hartals have become a continuous process. Such flash hartals would affect the state’s economy as well as the country’s tourism prospects.
The bench said though right to protest exist, that shall not affect the citizens’ fundamental rights.
The hartal has affected life in Kerala with public transport keeping off the roads and business establishments remaining shut.
Kripesh and Sarath Lal were hacked to death by unidentified assailants in Kasaragod late Sunday night. Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala lashed out at the ruling CPM and expressed his strong protest against the double murder. However, the CPM has denied any role in the killings.