How remission of sentences has enabled political murders in Kerala

Now that the issue of remitting sentences is in the news, perhaps we can finally talk about how the communists in Kerala have turned it into a method

How remission of sentences has enabled political murders in Kerala

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. ANI

In a fit of rage in early 2015, Kerala businessman Mohammad Nisham reportedly chased down a poor security guard with his expensive new Hummer car, ran him over and killed him. The following year, a court found him guilty of the murder and sentenced him to life in prison. So the justice system did what it was supposed to. Good.

But what about the reaction of civil society and its conscience keepers, both within the famously literate state of Kerala and in the rest of India? Did it spur silent marches, candlelight vigils and such? Did it lead to an outpouring of editorials on issues of power and privilege, class hierarchy and expressions of shame at what our society has become? No, because this did not happen in Uttar Pradesh.

And how about the dominant communist party in Kerala? Surely, they must have viewed this incident as a call to arms, right? Did they start a revolution? Well, not exactly. According to an RTI reply, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s government forwarded Mohammad Nisham’s name to the governor among a list of convicts whose sentences should be remitted. This was supposed to be part of official celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the formation of the state of Kerala. That would be 1 November 2016, by which time Nisham would have served less than 10 months out of his life sentence for murder. For the communists, human life remains cheap as ever.

This brings us to the age-old question: Is there a way to get away with murder? Now that the issue of remitting sentences is in the news, perhaps we can finally talk about how the communists in Kerala have turned it into a method. You see, in a state with as many political murders as Kerala, committing a crime and then hiding from the police for the rest of your life is simply not an option for the large party organisation. Or as a corporate executive might put it, that model is not scalable. Instead, there is a better way. Go get convicted, and then apply immediately for remission or parole. The boards that make these decisions are packed with party cadres anyway. So you get your pardon, remission, parole or whatever, and then walk out of jail through the front door.

We are only remitting the sentences, not releasing the prisoners, Vijayan explained in the Mohammad Nisham case. Did you understand? Me neither. In fact, the list of convicts scheduled for remission also included 11 individuals who had been convicted in 2014 for the murder of TP Chandrasekharan, a former CPM leader who had dared to rebel and break away from his party. Back then, the governor of Kerala blocked the releases by sending the list back to the state government, asking how the sentences could be remitted even before the murder convicts had served the usual 14-year period. It even caused a mild bout of embarrassment for the ruling, which had to remove a number of names from the initial list of 1911 convicts. But if you think that would put a check on the designs of the communist government, you would be very wrong.

“A comrade who had selflessly loved the party and exhibited concern towards society. As a social worker, he had won the acceptance and love of all sections of people in Panur.” These were the touching words with which Chief Minister Vijayan bid farewell to his deceased party colleague PK Kunjanathan in 2020. The entire Kerala Cabinet and the state CPM followed suit, showering similar words of praise on the departed leader.

But who was PK Kunjanathan? He was indeed one of the 11 convicts who was supposed to be serving a life sentence in the TP Chandrasekharan murder case that I just mentioned. A single 2018 report in the media states that he received parole 15 times in the first 20 months after Vijayan’s government came to power. At the time of his death due to natural causes in 2020, Kunjanathan was also out of jail. How many times did he get parole between 2016 and 2020? I could not find any reporting on this. The media generally does not dig very deep in situations that may embarrass the communists. It is part of the liberal privilege that comes with being a ‘secular’ party opposed to the BJP.

There is always more. In June of 2020, another murder convict made an appearance at the wedding of Chief Minister Vijayan’s daughter in Thiruvananthapuram. This individual was supposed to be serving a jail term for the murder of an RSS worker. But there he was, at the official residence of the chief minister, showing off his influence at the highest levels of power in the state. It should be noted that the incident took place during pandemic restrictions, with only a select 50 or so guests allowed to attend the wedding. After all, it is reported that the murder convict in question was a close relative of the groom Mohammad Riyas, now a first term CPM MLA who has been inducted into the Pinarayi cabinet as minister for the Public Works Department.

Again, the media did not dig very deep into the case of a murder convict attending the wedding of the chief minister’s daughter. It must be the liberal privilege.

I am not saying that Kerala is the only state where the ruling party has abused its power to grant releases to convicts. Like any other decent human being, I am appalled by the fact that the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case have walked out after just 14 years in jail. The sentences need to be much more harsh, and life imprisonment must really mean life imprisonment. It is also pathetic that a handful of people thought it would be a good idea to garland the convicts. However, it must be said that those people do not appear to be in constitutional positions of power.

By contrast, allowing murder convicts to show off their influence at the chief minister’s official residence, as in Kerala, is an altogether different level of brazenness. Or with Vijayan and his entire party leadership paying tribute to murder convict Kunjanathan. Or take the recent case in Tamil Nadu, where the state government freed one of those convicted for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. It is even more mind numbing to know that this was the fulfillment of an election promise, and that the released convict met Chief Minister MK Stalin soon after. And yes, there were garlands.

Ironically, the same people who largely ignored these outrageous incidents will now probably turn around and accuse me of “whataboutism”. Along with the usual labels of being a “bhakt”, “IT cell” or “WhatsApp University”. As if one can compare the actions of a couple of individuals in Gujarat to those of top politicians and constitutional office holders in non-BJP ruled states. In fact, why is it that the only time we can even mention abuses of power in non-BJP ruled states is when liberals have decided to highlight something wrong in a BJP-ruled state? What does that say about who controls the discourse, and about liberal privilege?

And as for WhatsApp University, what is that really? Yes, there is misinformation out there, as on every other platform. But the black market of information exists because we know that those who control the “official” discourse leave out a lot of inconvenient facts. So people pick up some of this “banned” stuff on the black market. What is wrong with that? For example, did you know who was the accused in the first ever political murder in Kerala back in 1969? Forget I said anything.

The writer is an author and columnist. He tweets @AbhishBanerj. Views expressed are personal.

Read all the Latest News, Trending NewsCricket News, Bollywood News,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Source link

Оцените статью