“I was in the Northeast (India), where people started [talking to me] about Kannur being a place where you witness genocide of Hindus. What does genocide of Hindus mean – Hindus being killed by other community. Kannur is a place which has no history of communal riots…,” Ullekh NP, executive editor of Open Magazine, told Newslaundry.
A native of Kerala’s Kannur district, Ullekh further adds, “This is the kind of misinformation campaign that was unleashed by Redtrocity [a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party campaign] and those associated with the campaign.”
Author of Kannur: Inside India’s Bloodiest Revenge Politics, and two other books, Ullekh, in his latest book, has tried to explore all possible aspects of this political violence. He is the son of late Communist Party of India [Marxist] leader Pattiam Gopalan. In his latest book, Ullekh has also shared the politics, grief and the ideological war that he has seen from close quarters first as a family member and later as a journalist.
In the book, he has also mentioned the cultural history of the Northern Malabar region which could possibly be affecting Kannur’s political culture. A section of spiritual leaders sees a connection between the Chekavar and Kalari culture [martial arts of the land] and present-day violence for the political supremacy. Ullekh said that the spiritual leaders told him “the souls of the dead that have not found any redemption are a curse to the land – Kannur.” He added that he has just presented these arguments, “their [spiritual leaders] opinions and views, and left it there.”
Southern Kerala had witnessed social movements led by people such as Sri Narayana Guru, Chattampi Swamikal which challenged the Brahmanical hierarchy of the time. This meant it had very fertile ground for the Communist Party, Congress party or any other party to grow. “The social reformation movements which happened in Kerala didn’t happen much in these parts [Kannur and Northern Kerala]. The first major political expression that happened in the Northern part of Kerala are militant peasant and trade union movements…that moulded the political culture of both the parties and the individuals,” Ullekh said.
“Someone who is martyred is fitted as a hero and his loss for the parties lapped up as a huge sacrifice. Therefore, there is an effort on the part of political parties to take advantage of the martyrdom of their party worker,” Ullekh said. He added that in a highly politicised and violent place like Kannur it’s natural that such ritualistic measures are taken. He points out that both CPM and RSS workers are being killed in this political violence but the national media narrative only carries stories related to the RSS victims.
Ullekh discusses how those being killed are also earning members of their families and it disrupts the economic equilibrium of the family which can never be rectified later, possibly.
Listen to Ullekh speak about secret parlays between the RSS-CPM to bring peace in Kannur, the history of violence, how killer squads or the quotation gangs operate and details about Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and much more.
Read Newslaundry‘s four-part series on political killings in Kerala here.