Arun Jaitley’s visit to divert attention from medical college scam: Pinarayi Vijayan

Political violence since 2000 has taken a toll of fewer than 170 lives, claims Kerala Police, averaging less than 10 a year. That explains why several Keralites are annoyed at descriptions of the state as a ‘killing field’

Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images
Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

Ashlin Mathew

There are political killings in Kerala but this is not one of them, say most people in the state NH spoke to the day after Union Minister Arun Jaitley flew to Kerala on a much-publicised visit to condole the death of ‘RSS activist’ Rajesh Edavakode, allegedly killed by CPM workers.

While people wondered whether Jaitley visited Kerala as a BJP leader, as the Union Finance Minister or the Union Defence minister, others asked why he did not visit the home of a single CPM worker killed by the RSS in the state. Kerala Police after all has released a list of 86 CPM workers and 65 RSS activists killed in political violence in the last 17 years.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in the state Assembly on Monday that the BJP was trying to divert the involvement of its leaders in the medical college scam. A leaked internal probe report of the BJP appeared to confirm that its state general secretary MT Ramesh and Cooperative Cell convenor RS Vinod had accepted a bribe of ₹5.6 crore to help two private medical colleges in the state secure recognition from the Medical Council of India.

The Chief Minister said that the state government had received Intelligence inputs that the BJP would unleash political violence in the state in a bid to divert attention from the scandal.

On Sunday, an all-party meeting resolved to give police a free hand to deal with crime and criminals after the Chief Minister expressed concern at attempts to give the state a bad name.

There has been no increase in violence in Kerala. “Nothing much has changed. The only difference is that the BJP is playing up the murders. BJP’s claims will not stand the scrutiny of any statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau and the State Crime Records Bureau. In some cases, the killings are not even political. They have brought this up immediately after the medical college scam where a number of BJP leaders were involved as a ruse to divert attention,” says NS Madhavan, a former IAS officer and well-known writer.

Kerala has the least number of political killings. “All these killings are being drummed up before the arrival of Amit Shah in Kerala. This is the only state they have not been able to make inroads in and their frustration shows,” added Madhavan.

“This is mostly a criminal gang war which has been given a political colour. Rajesh had a case against him and he was killed by a few other criminals. This was one of their usual fights and the BJP has a special interest in highlighting the issue. Some of the media will obviously go along with them,” said Paul Zacharia, a Thiruvanathanpuram-based political commentator and well-known author.

“One should not equate this to the Kannur and Thallassery killings. The story there is different. Arun Jaitley has come here to magnify the killing. That is his job. I will not be surprised if day after tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes here,” added Zacharia.

Underworld rivalry led to killing

Was Arun Jaitley then taken for a ride? The question assumes importance because by all accounts, the alleged RSS activist got killed due to underworld rivalry.

Police say that though Rajesh was an RSS worker, the first accused in this case, Manikuttan, had no political leanings. “Rajesh’s cousin Vishnu and Manikuttan were friends until they broke off recently. Vishnu then joined Rajesh. After he switched sides, Rajesh’s and Manikuttan’s group clashed on July 9. They attacked each other’s homes and glass panes were broken. A non-bailable case was slapped on Rajesh and Vishnu. To counter this, they filed cases against Manikuttan and his cousin Vipin,” said Pramod Kumar, Kazhakootam ACP, who is leading the investigation.

“Manikuttan had no specific party affiliation and was not involved in any party work. He would be on the side of whoever was in power. The last few years, it was the Congress,” added Kumar.

Eventually, Manikuttan and Vishnu decided to amicably settle the case, but Rajesh opposed this move. “In July, cases were filed under Sections 143, 147, 148, 324 and 452 of the IPC against Rajesh, Vishnu and Manikuttan. Later, when we were investigating, we found out that Rajesh wanted the law to take its own course and did not want Vishnu to settle it with Manikuttan,” said Anoop Krishna, Sreekaryam SP, who is supervising the case.

Manikuttan is an accused in more than 15 cases under Sections 323, 324, 325, 326, 308 of the IPC, “but he has never been accused in a murder case before this,” added Anoop Krishna. “Both Rajesh and Manikuttan lived in nearby colonies in Vinayaka Nagar. There were minor problems earlier, but nothing to point towards such rivalry to warrant a killing,” said the SP.

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Published: 07 Aug 2017, 7:06 PM