The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution was what US-German philosopher Hannah Arendt said. It reads well in the Kerala context after the murders of so-called Maoists by the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF Government that has come to power, though not through a revolution.
At the height of this hauteur has been the police slapping UAPA charges against two CPIM youths in Kozhikode in possession of pamphlets against the killing of four persons said to be Maoists in the forest range near Attappadi in Palakkad district last week.
None forgets the recent image of Pinarayi welcoming the revolutionary Che Guevara's daughter in Thiruvananthapuram. Youths donning T-shirts with images or tattoos of iconic revolutionaries Che or Fidel Castro have become a common sight at CPIM and its youth wing, DYFI parades even if the party guns down those supposedly championing the cause of change.
The gunning down of four alleged Maoists by a special police commando force called Thunderbolt in the Attappadi forests has caused a furore. Opposition has come even from within the front. If party grapevine is to be believed, the CPIM state secretariat two days ago saw voices of dissent.
This is not the first time that this Pinarayi-led Government has done it. Last May, in a similar 'encounter' the special commando force killed a person and injured another at a luxury resort in neighbouring Wayanad district.
In November 2016, Thunderbolt forces killed two Maoists, including a woman, in an alleged encounter inside the Nilambur forests in Malappuram district.
It is a bundle of contradictions within the CPIM. The Chief Minister who also holds the Home portfolio justified the gruesome action of his police taskforce, claiming it was in self-defence as the Maoists first opened fire. He claimed that they were armed and creating fear among the people.
Contradicting this, locals asserted that the so-called Maoists were a social group that lectured to them about their rights and the number of schemes for their benefit. They never ever terrorised people and never ever robbed them of their food or other belongings. Images of the area showed that the team lived on frugal meals.
Ruling front partner CPI, which sent its team of MLAs for an on-the-spot assessment to the forest, had revelations contradicting Pinarayi's claim, much to the chagrin of the CPIM. The shed where arms were said to have been stored by these 'terrorists' was a small structure of twigs and canes that the kids in the locality had erected on their playground.
There was no evidence of gunfire in the quite open area where the alleged shooting took place. Neither had the locals heard gunshots, though the Government claimed that there was a long encounter.
The CPI dubbed as fabricated the video put out by the police. It shows everyone lying down during the shooting, leaving unanswered as to who shot the visuals which could be done only while standing.
A shed seen there, and claimed to have built by the Maoists, was actually set up by the police a few days ago, locals had told the CPI team. It was obvious that the four were shot when they were having food, discounting the encounter theory.
Given the power equations, the CPI has heroically gone this far, but cannot go further. There is confusion now over the identity of those killed and a demand for re-post mortem. Locals like tribal group leader Murugan asserted that the killings happened in a fake encounter.
Adivasi Thaikulam Sangham vice-president Sivani, who played the role of a mediator in talks for their surrender, said the alleged Maoists were ready to surrender and the police was informed of this during discussions. But the authorities are silent about the surrender side of it.
The basic tenets of the tagged Maoist are to prevent the exploitation of the poor and the vulnerable, especially tribals, and make their voices heard in the mainstream.
Kerala has had a peaceful history, at least for the past few years after the heady 70s when there were a few violent incidents. The situation here now is unlike in the areas of Chhattisgarh or Madhya Pradesh.
What appears obvious is that the basic underlying ideals of humanity were bypassed or systematically eliminated to carry out some political agenda or was a decoy as pointed out by former High Court judge Kemal Pasha. This needs thorough examination by an independent agency outside the police force. Ironically, there was direct use of violence when the Central policy to tackle Left wing extremism (LWE) is Samadhan.
It is time the CPM made an introspection as its basic premise is to safeguard and uphold human dignity and finally end class struggle.
But it has not only failed to protect the interests of the marginalised but has been using state machinery of force and violence to suppress the people who believe in a similar ideology. The use of an iron hand to mute the dissenting voices and murdering the unarmed and the weak (unhealthy), who, as accounts of residents indicate, were willing to surrender, is no way to propagate an ideal that it is supposed to uphold.
The ruling party needs to realise that when other nations and states rejected or feared the idea of communism, the only reason why it got a conducive ground in Kerala was the democratic nature and its ability to echo the voices of the common and the marginalised.
Rather than addressing the root cause for Naxal movement which is underdevelopment or absence of development, exploitation and poverty, the State has used elite task forces to suppress them. The arrest of two CPM youths slapped under the UAPA is literally a big slap on the party cadre.
The government has used theatricality to create or mimic a situation of instability or horror to veil the real evil. The murder and encounter tale is banal, evil characterised by the belief that what one is doing is not evil, rather engaging in a behaviour that is, or has been, normalised by the society in which one resides. The series of political killings as a result of clash between political ideologies (existence of which is under cloud at least in the case of CPM) can be suspected to be individual acts aimed at creation of a normality where any dissenting voice is shot down rather than being heard.
This act of state terror gives no scope for reformative justice.
As admitted in political circles, when Central funds to Kerala come in trickles, huge amounts can come through schemes to counter insurgency like Samadhan, coined by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Money flows to fortify police stations in 'Naxalite-infested' areas and provide sophisticated equipment. The killings have helped this Left Government to identify areas in Wayanad, Malappuram and Palakkad districts thus and ensure Central support under such schemes.
Given the ways of this Government, the old saying gets substantiated - power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
(The views and facts expressed in the article are that of the author.)