Justifying Maoist killings: Did Kerala Chief Secretary violate service rules?

Justifying Maoist killings: Did Kerala Chief Secretary violate service rules?
Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose (R)

Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose has stirred a controversy when he justified the encounter killings of four Maoists in Agali forests on October 28 and  29.

In a piece written in The Times of India titled 'It is like a war: Kill or be killed' on Tuesday, he argued that Maoists should be killed for the safety of citizens.

The article soon became a political controversy with Communist Party of India (CPI), the ally of the ruling coalition Left Democratic Front, and opposition Congress slamming the chief secretary.

Tom Jose argued that the security personnel have only carried out their duty to protect the citizens from the onslaught of Maoist terrorists. “There is no rationale in stating that Maoists who indulge in armed conflict have got the same human rights and privileges as normal citizens. Not only that it cuts at the very root of the principles we live by, but also mocks and insults the ordinary people who go about their daily lives obeying the laws of the society.”

He went on to say that Maoists have been operating mainly in Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur districts, and Kerala is their safe haven.

“Many fail to understand that the Maoists are using Kerala as a safe haven to hide and plot against the state after things got rough in the neighbouring states. Our security forces are engaged in asymmetrical warfare with Maoists. Jungle warfare by its very nature is asymmetrical. It is either kill or be killed.”

Political parties, except the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bharatiya Janata Party, had condemned the Maoists killings and termed them fake encounters. 

Tom Jose drew similarities between the soldiers who fight enemies across the borders and those who fight the Maoists, and wondered why people are blaming the police forces who are trying to protect the citizens from Maoist.

“When our soldiers fight our enemies across the border, we don’t portray them in a bad light. We applaud them. Then why blame our police forces when all they do is to protect the citizens from Maoist terrorists?” he asked.

He also indirectly hinted that the two youngsters arrested in Kozhikode -  Alan Shuaib and Thaha Fazal - are part of the growing 'urban Maoist' network.

“If the terrorists build themselves stronger and reach urban areas as they are aiming, then remember philosopher Edmund Burke’s famous quote, ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. We must act. We cannot afford to do nothing,” he concluded.

Chief secretary is not above government: CPI

CPI, while slamming the piece, said chief secretary does not have any rights to publish a piece supporting the police action. "He has violated the service rules. It is illegal to write a piece when the Assembly is in session," said CPI state assistant secretary K Prakash Babu. "Don't we have a democratically elected government here?" he asked.

The issue came up for discussion in the Assembly too. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that Tom Jose violated the service rules by publishing the article. 

In response, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said he could comment on the charge only after reading the piece. "I haven't read the article yet," Pinarayi said.

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