Congress demands CBI probe, police recover murder weapons
Former Chief Minister and Administrative Reforms Commission Chairperson V. S. Achuthanandan, has condemned the killing of two Kerala Youth Congress workers (KYC) in Periya in Kasaragod last Sunday.
The veteran leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) described the act as diabolical, and one which cast a chill over the collective consciousness of Kerala society.
Mr. Achuthanandan’s statement came against the backdrop of emerging evidence that pointed to the possible involvement of the local leadership of the CPM in the mafia-style hit-and-run killing.
He said planned execution of political rivals was a clear deviation from the party line, and that there was no place for killers or those who sanction murders in the CPM. The party secretary had made the matter clear unequivocally, he said, adding that the CPM should expel members who violated the party line.
In 2012, as Chief Minister, Mr. Achuthanandan had caused a stir in political circles when he called on the family of T. P. Chandrasekharan, the leader of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) who was killed in a similar hit-and-run assassination at Onchiyam in Kannur the same year. The visit had occurred on the day of the by-election to the Neyyatnikara Legislative Assembly constituency – the leader was criticised for putting the CPM on the backfoot on a crucial day.
The killings of the KYC workers Kripesh and Sarath Lal has put the CPM again on the defence in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
The murders had occurred when the Left Democratic Front (LDF) was organising the “Kerala Samrakshana Yatra”, a pre-election exercise aimed at energising cadres and drawing public attention to the shortcomings of the Centre, and right-wing threats to the State’s secular values.
The CPM State secretary, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, conceded on Tuesday that the crime had worked to the advantage of the party’s political detractors.
The party has openly distanced itself from CPM activist, A. Peethambaram, the prime suspect in the murder.
Suspect’s family implicates CPM
The move has irked the members of Peethambaran’s family. His wife Manju told television journalists in Kasaragod that her husband was a dedicated party worker and he would not undertake any venture that did not have the prior sanction of CPM leaders.
She claimed that Peethambaran had largely confined himself to the house ever since he had lost the use of his right hand in an attack by local Congressmen in January. The local police had named the slain KYC workers as the prime accused in the case.
Congress doubts police probe
The Congress seized upon on Manju’s statement and raised serious doubts about the integrity of the ongoing police investigation into the murders. Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, addressing a protest meeting in Kasaragod on Wednesday, challenged the State Government to order a CBI enquiry.
Police investigation gathers momentum
The State police investigation into the murders gained momentum with the police recovering a hilt-less sword and two iron roads from an abandoned well near the crime scene. Investigators said they had made the recoveries following custodial statement by Peethambaran.
Plain-clothes squads also searched several premises in Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Mangalapuram in Karnataka for a van believed to have been used by the assailants. However, a senior officer said that the lack of eye-witnesses, clues like vehicle and mobile phone numbers, and the possible involvement of hitherto unknown hit-teams were formidable hurdles that investigators are trying to overcome.