Recently, in the backdrop of Sabarimala agitation, the CPIM led Kerala government has arrested more than 2000 people in connection with the various protests including “Nama Japa Yatras” where people chant the God’s name as they take out processions. These Yatras had witnessed huge participation as people from various walks of lives joined in, silently protesting the interference of the judiciary in age old customs and traditions. The Kerala high court has expressed alarm over the scale of arrests directing that “the arrest should be made only after properly investigating such persons’ participation in the alleged violent protests”. The socio- cultural organization, NSS, has criticized the move as similar to emergency and has said in a press note that it will fight the charges “legally and peacefully”.
The communist party in Kerala has long been associated with the use of violence against its political opponents. A spate of killing of RSS cadre during the initial months of the recent term has prompted national criticism. The political violence had pressured the governor to seek report from the state’s administration (here, here and here).
The greatest instance of violent behavior however, is the infamous T P Chandrasekharan murder case, noted for its political overtones and the gruesome manner of killing in addition to the involvement of higher level office bearers of the communist party in the planning and execution of the murder. Despite the notoriety caused by the case, CPIM continues to support the murderers.
The activism of the chief minister is, however restricted to some sections of society. Earlier, he had expressed his “anger” at removing a cross illegally placed on encroached land, claiming it was done “deliberately to pit the government against the devotees”. “A lot of people worship the cross and handle it with care,” the chief minister was quoted as saying. The government had also refused to arrest Bishop Franco Mulakkal for 87 days before bowing down to public pressure. A spate of political killings by the SDPI has also contributed to increasing concern among the public. A gruesome murder of SFI activist Abhimanyu in the district of Ernakulam saw the chief minister refusing to name the attackers.
It is reported that the Kerala government has asked the devoswam board, which manages the state’s temples to hire only cadre of the communist party for the various auxiliary posts numbering 1650 in sabarimala in preparation for the upcoming “mandala kala” when the iconic temple stays open for 41 days. The chief minister had earlier censured the Travancore Devoswam Board (TDB) for reportedly planning to file a review petition on behalf of the temple.
This is completely illegal. There is process , notification ,labour dept, employment exchange. Constitutionally against Art 16 — no govt body can arbitrarily recruit its party members for either a permanent job or on contract basis or raise a 'hit squad' like this. https://t.co/9d2YPBsKGA
— Reality Check India (@realitycheckind) October 26, 2018
There was great concern among devotees when the media was asked to leave the temple premises on the 22 October, many believing it to be a precursor to more violence by the state police.
Sounds fishy 😖 https://t.co/4cTwwG6o3s
— iMac_too (@iMac_too) October 22, 2018
While many media channels had obliged, some continued to stay and report the ground situation.
The Kerala police, controlled by the chief minister who holds the home portfolio as well, has been accused of undue violence towards the public in the past as well. It is only to be seen how Ayyappa devotees will be treated from this point on.