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Political murders laced with terrorism: The trouble in West Bengal and Kerala

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Back in the month of January 2017, the residence of BJP leader Krishna Bhattacharya in Uttarapura was bombed by workers of the Trinamool Congress. The same month TMC workers had attacked the BJP's office in Kolkata.

Political murders laced with terrorism: The trouble in West Bengal and Kerala

The recent Panchayat elections witnessed a bloody fight. Now two BJP workers have been found dead under mysterious circumstances and the party has called them political murders.

West Bengal like Kerala has the dubious distinction of having a large number of political murders. The politics is bloody and the rise of any party is often met with such responses. In both states the BJP has been trying to make inroads and the ruling party in both states have looked the other way when it came to such political murders.

The National Crime Records Bureau which had released a report in 2014 says that Bengal tops the chart when it comes to political murders. The state had recorded 26 political murders in 2013, which is more than 25 per cent of the 101 cases across the country. In 2012, Bengal was at the third position, but claimed its way to the top in the next year.

On Saturday, the body of another man was found hanging from a power transmission tower in West Bengal's Purulia district, with the BJP claiming he was a party worker and Union minister Prakash Javadekar alleging that it was "political murder".

The incident comes days after the body of another man, Trilochon Mahato (20), who the party said was a member of its youth wing, was found hanging from a tree in Balarampur village of Purulia district.

The BJP alleged the deaths were "political murders" and demanded a CBI inquiry into the two incidents, even as the West Bengal government transferred Purulia Superintendent of Police Joy Biswas. He has been replaced by Akash Magharia.

The alleged killings have triggered another round of face-off between the TMC and the BJP, which were embroiled in a bitter slugfest during the panchayat elections last month.

Party president Amit Shah attacked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in the wake of the alleged "political murders".

Kumar's death outraged locals who protested outside the Balarampur police station, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits and removal of the officer-in-charge.

A note found near Mahato's body read he was "punished for working for the BJP" during the recent panchayat polls. However, the police did not recover any such note in Kumar's case.

Going the Kerala way:

Between 2000 and 2016, Kannur district alone reported 69 political murders. In 2016 alone there were 7 such instances reported. In the year 2017 alone there have already been four such instances.

The data available for the past 17 years shows that there have been 160 political murders that have taken place. Most of the killings between 2000 and 2017 are due to political rivalry. During this period, Kerala witnessed the murders of 65 RSS or BJP workers. 85 CPM workers and 11 workers of the Congress-IUML were murdered between 2000 and 2017.

2017 list of political murders in Kerala:

  • Ezhuthan Santhosh, a 52 year old BJP worker was hacked to death at Andallur on 18 January 2017.
  • RSS worker Biju was murdered by alleged CPM activists at Payyanur on May 12 2017. Ananthu Ashokan, a teenager murdered in April 2017 Cherthala. 16 RSS workers were arrested although the case was not declared as a political murder.
  • RSS worker Rajesh was murdered on July 29 2017.

2016 list of political murders in Kerala:

  • Sujith, an RSS activist was killed on February 13.
  • CPM worker Cherikandath Raveendran, 55, was killed on 18 May 2016 at Kandyarmukku.
  • Dhanraj, 52 a CPM worker was stabbed at Payyanur on July 11.
  • C K Ramachandran an auto-rickshaw driver killed allegedly by CPM workers on July 11.
  • 26-year-old RSS worker Bineesh was hacked to death by suspected CPM supporters on 4 September, 2016 in Kannur district.
  • Kuzhichalil Mohanan, 50 of the CPM was killed on 10 October 2016.
  • On October 12, BJP worker Ramith was killed in an attack.
  • Ramit's father Uthaman too had met with a similar fate in 2002.

When terrorism creeps in:

In both West Bengal as well as Kerala, political murders have been laced with an element of terrorism. Various probes conducted in Kerala have found that radical and terror elements have been behind the political killings.

The probe specifically into the Burdhwan blasts of 2014, revealed a major nexus between the political class and members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh. It was the same industry that was making bombs for the JMB as well the political class.

Bombs have always been a symbol of strength for the political parties in the state. The high demand for bombs has led to the opening of cottage industries across the state. Most of them are found largely in the bordering areas as it serves a dual purpose. Terrorists too have joined the bandwagon and continue to take advantage of the lax security system. Most of these cottage industries enjoy political patronage as a result of which activities in such cottage industries go undetected on purpose.

Right from a village panchayat election to a Lok Sabha polls, several political parties have used bombs as a tool to fight their opponents. In several cases, it has been found that cottage industries have been set up to make bombs.

Terror bombs meant to kill innocents has also become a thriving industry. The Burdhwan episode was a sign of this. In this case, we, however, got to see a full-fledged module from Bangladesh being set up in West Bengal.

It was not difficult for these persons to source and make the bombs considering the fact that there was already a thriving market for the same. The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen operatives had easy access to material and this helped them make over 150 bombs. Investigations have shown that bombs are being made in illegal cottage industries in West Bengal.

There are several labour who have been roped in for the job. These are not skilled labour, but unemployed youth have been hired to prepare the bombs. These industries also have a large number of Bangladeshi illegal immigrants. Investigations show that the job of these persons is to prepare bombs and they are paid around Rs 70 per day. Their only brief is to prepare as many bombs as possible.

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