THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: When MM Mani, the firebrand CPM Idukki district secretary, made some startling disclosures that the party has indeed a history of killing political opponents, he was unbundling a baggage of gory killings in the party stronghold in his domain, especially in the spice-rich Santhanpara-Rajakkad belt in the eastern fringes of Idukki, bordering Tamil Nadu.
The CPM strongman has been presiding over the party district unit as secretary for an uninterrupted 26 years. Mani stated that the party had listed out 13 Congress activists, including local leaders in the Santhanpara area, and the elimination of three among them had forced Congressmen to leave the scene.
"One was shot dead. Another was beaten to death. Yet another one was stabbed to death. Weâ€™ve done such things and, therefore, none should frighten us now with gimmicks, he maintained. Eight grama panchayats under the Santhanpara and Rajakkad CPM area committees are virtual bastions where Mani and lieutenants have absolute sway.
The area had accounted for seven murders since 1982 and only some political killings have happened outside the belt.
Anchery Baby, a mandalam president of the Youth Congress, was shot dead allegedly by CPM men near Santhanpara on November 13, 1982. Next was the turn of Mullanchira Mathai, who was beaten to death at Kulapparachal in the same area, on January 16, 1983. In 1989, M M Maniâ€™s politics and alleged personal vendetta mixed up when his brother-in-law Thankappan was killed in Bison Valley, eventually avenging it through the murder of 20 Acre Sunny, a BJP worker.
In 1991, I L Naicker, Madurai DCC member, who owned a cardamom estate in Santhanpara, was killed by CPM activists in the adjacent Bodimettu area. T J Shine, currently serving as the CPM Santhanpara area committee secretary, was sentenced to seven yearsâ€™ rigorous imprisonment after the Theni district court found him guilty in the case and his appeal is now pending before the Tamil Nadu High Court.
Aattukadu Ramakrishnan, relative of Naicker and key witness in the case, was also killed after three years. Kuttachan Valariyil, a CPM activist who had switched over to JSS and who was emerging as a local threat to the CPM, was targeted in 1993. He was stabbed to death in 1993.
In the series of bloody showdowns which took place when Mani was at the helm of affairs, one was the killing of Muttukad Nanappan in Bison Valley. CPM took sides with Nanappanâ€™s brother Krishnankutty, while the brothers were engaged in a running feud. It was another matter that Nanappanâ€™s men killed Krishnankutty later.
While the number of opponents who lost their lives at the hands of CPM was many in the belt in the last three decades, the martyrs of the party were less. SFI district vice- president Aneesh Rajan was killed at Nedumkandam in March this year.
The CPM is on record stating that the killing will be avenged. Outside the bastion of CPM in Idukki, the party struck by doing away with Balu, a Congress activist in Vandiperiyar. Congressmen retaliated soon and Ayyappadas, a CPM activist, was murdered.
The clout of Mani in the CPM and its supporters is beyond description and he even openly challenged his one-time close ally V S Achuthanandan who, while he was Chief Minister, launched the Munnar demolition drive.
He fell out with Achuthanandan allegedly after his brotherâ€™s properties in Munnar were also earmarked for clearing. Mani also did not allow Achuthanandan to step into Idukki for campaigning in the last Assembly polls.
Even then, three segments - Peermade, Devikulam(SC) and Udumbanchola-- were retained by the LDF as its nominees emerged victorious. While maintaining an arrogant stance on the track record of the Idukki CPM, Mani has definitely kicked up a fresh row in the aftermath of the T P Chandrasekharan murder case.
Incidentally, the CPI is also fiercely opposed to the CPM in the district, as the rift in the trade union sector is serious within the Left fold itself.