The sensational 2012 murder of rebel CPI(M) leader and Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) founder TP Chandrasekharan seems to be back to haunt the party 12 years later, this time over the Kerala government’s alleged bid to grant remission to the four convicts in the case despite a Kerala High Court order prohibiting the grant of parole.

Although the Pinarayi Vijayan government has backtracked on the move, the series of incidents leading up to it have provided ammunition to the Opposition, which has claimed “the ruling party’s concern” for the convicted people has been “exposed”.

What is the case?

Chandrasekharan, a rebel CPI(M) leader from the Left stronghold of Vadakara in North Kerala who quit the party in 2008, was hacked to death by a seven-member gang following repeated electoral setbacks for the Left in the region and following the RMP’s foray. into the electoral scene.

A trial court in 2014 convicted 12 for the murder, including three local CPI(M) leaders, and awarded life terms to all except one, while acquitting two others.

In February, the Kerala High Court upgraded the quantum of punishment to two life terms for nine of the convicts, while quashing the acquittal of KK Krishnan and Geothi Babu, both CPI(M) leaders, and awarded them life imprisonment.

What are the events that led to the outrage?

Festive offer

The Vijayan government recently decided to grant remission to some convicts from across the state on the occasion of Independence Day. DGP (Prisons) Balram Kumar Upadhyay compiled a list for this, which was found to have “ineligible persons”, following which the state Home Department, on June 3, asked the DGP to compile a fresh list sticking to the norms. This prompted the jail authorities to start the process of procuring probation reports from the police.

In Kannur Central Prison, where senior CPI(M) leader P Jayarajan is a member of the prison advisory board and where most of the convicts of the Chandrasekharan murder are lodged, jail authorities sought probation reports on three convicts, TK Rajeesh, KK Muhammed Shafi. , S Sijith – all members of the gang that killed Chandrasekharan. The probation reports, for which the police are mandated to record statements of the victim’s family, are the basis on which the jail authorities give recommendations on special remission to the state government.

In this case, the report was sought on June 13, three months after the Kerala High Court increased the quantum of punishment of the convicts to two life terms and also directed the state government to ensure they are not granted parole. The High Court’s directions came after taking into consideration reports from jail authorities. The court also observed that the convicts had indulged in crimes and anti-social activities while being out on parole previously.

What was the Vijayan government’s response?

As it became known that the state government had sought the probation reports of the Chandrasekharan murder accused, the CPI(M) government tried to wriggle out of the situation and suspended three Kannur prison officials.

Following this, it was revealed that the police had also recorded Chandrasekharan’s widow, and now Vadakara MLA, KK Rama’s statement for a probation report on Manojan, a former CPI(M) leader and another convict in the case. An assistant sub-inspector was suspended over this.

Rama slammed the CPI(M) government claiming it was scared that the convicts would reveal the conspiracy behind her husband’s death if they were not released. “They are afraid of the convicts, or how is it possible that they are getting privileges in prison?” she asked.

State minister MB Rajesh proceeded to say in the Assembly that the jail authorities had not sought probation reports from the police in accordance with the prescribed norms. “The final list of convicts who will be considered for remission will not include the names of those convicted in (the Chandrasekharan murder) case,” he said.

Why is the CPI(M) on the defensive over the issue?

Since 2016, when the Vijayan-led CPI(M) government came to power, the convicts in the case have been granted prolonged paroles at regular intervals, an issue which Rama has raised several times in the Assembly since her election in 2021. Ahead of the recent Lok Sabha elections too, six convicts in the case were granted parole.

Apart from paroles, the convicts have been reported to enjoy special privileges in jail with the connivance of authorities. Many of them were found using mobile phones and accessing social media. One of the convicts, Kodi Suni, was allegedly operating a hitman squad from jail.

Meanwhile, senior CPI(M) leaders made frequent trips to the prison to meet convicts.

In 2020, amid the Covid pandemic and in violation of restrictions, the CPI (M) also accorded a hero’s farewell to one of the convicts, PK Kunhanandan, after his death.

How is this case different from other “political murders”?

Chandrasekharan’s murder was a turning point in North Kerala’s history of political violence between the CPI(M) and Sangh Parivar. It was seen as the first time that the police had apprehended the “real” killers in a case of political murder in Kerala, which was in stark contrast to the past where political parties were seen to make “proxy accused” sacrificial lambs.

In an unprecedented move, many CPI(M) leaders were arrested on charges of conspiring to commit Chandrasekharan’s murder and hiring a gang involved in several other killings to execute it. The police, during its investigation, found that the gang had been involved in 75 criminal cases, including nine political murders, carried out allegedly at the behest of CPI(M) leaders in Kannur.

What is the electoral price the Left has paid?

Once seen as a Left stronghold, Vadakara slipped out of the CPI(M)’s influence after Chandrasekharan’s exit from the party. A year after he floated the RMP, the Left lost the Vadakara Lok Sabha seat to the Congress in 2009. It also tasted defeat in the 2014 and 2019 polls. In the recent Lok Sabha elections, in its bid to regain the seat, the Left fielded a popular woman face in KK Shailaja, but she too lost, to the Congress’s young turk Shafi Parambil.

The Left has tasted defeat in the Assembly polls too since Chandrasekharan’s murder, with the JD(S) winning the Vadakara seat in the 2016 polls, and Rama emerging victorious in 2021.