Kerala hartal: 2 taken into custody over congress workers’ killings

Thiruvananthapuram/Kasaragod: After the murder of two Youth Congress workers in Kasaragod district’s Periya on Sunday night, Kerala is reeling under another hartal, the second in two months. Two people were taken into custody over the murders. 

Even as the court had last month banned flash shutdowns, the Youth Congress in the State had called for the bandh and forcefully shutdown many shops. Normal life was affected and violence was witnessed at many places. The High court has taken a suo motto case of contempt of court against Youth Congress president Dean Kuriakose, who called for the hartal, and two other local UDF leaders.

According to reports, the two people who have been taken into custody are being questioned and two motorcycles, suspected to have been used by the attackers, have been seized by the police.

On Sunday night, the deceased, Kripesh and Sharat Lal were returning home after taking part in a function when they were blocked by a gang who hacked them to death. Relatives of deceased have alleged that the CPI(M) was behind the killings and that the two had previously received threats.

Funeral of the two activists was held yesterday night and hundreds of party workers bade them a tearful farewell.

Political rivalry was the cause of the murder and a three-member gang which came in a jeep was suspected to be behind the crime, said official reports. It has also been reported that the accused are believed to have escaped to Karnataka, and the DGP Loknath Behara has sought help from the neighbouring State to nab the accused.

Reacting to the incident, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “The brutal murder of two members of our Youth Congress family in Kasargod, Kerala is shocking. The Congress Party stands in solidarity with the families of these two young men & I send them my deepest condolences. We will not rest till the murderers are brought to justice.”

Many political leaders condemned the incident. Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala blamed the CI(M) for the double murder. He said, “The CPI(M) is trying to destroy the Congress party using the party goons. The youth congress activists were attacked without any provocation. They were not involved in any kind of criminal activities. No cases were there against them. The government should identify the culprits and arrest them as soon as possible.”

State CPI(M) secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan stated the killings cannot be justified and if any local CPI(M) activists had a role in it, action would be taken against them. He further said that the party would not protect them.

Speaking to reporters regarding this, former Union minister and CWC member A K Antony urged the people of the state to topple the CPI(M)-led LDF in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

29 political murders have taken place after the Pinarayi Vijayan government came to power, alleged Mullapally Ramachandran.

Former chief minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy said the attack was pre-planned and there was conspiracy behind it. He said the hartal was a natural response to such a cold-blooded killing.

Describing the killing as gruesome, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan said, “We have lost two valuable lives…it was gruesome.”

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan described the incident as extremely unfortunate, and said strong action would be taken against the accused. Issuing a statement in this regard, the CMO said the State DGP has been instructed to bring all the accused to book as early as possible.

NT Bureau