Kannur: Mandhamkund Saghakkal, a collective of CPI comrades in Kannur district's Taliparamba, on Tuesday posted a photograph of an elderly couple on its Facebook page.
Kariyil Narayanan (73) and his wife Kariyil Narayani (65) were helplessly watching over a wall built overnight less than 10m from their doorstep.
A trench has been dug beyond the wall, which was their road for the past 32 years. The Kariyil couple has been mewed up in their house.
The CPM -- the dominant party in Keezhattoor area -- has dismissed the incident as a dispute between two cousins. "Of course, it is a family dispute but the fact is this wall would not have come up if I had not left the CPM and joined CPI," said the elderly couple's son Biju Kariyil. "That's the stranglehold the CPM has on our lives," he said.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPM] and the Communist Party of India (CPI) are allies and part of the Left Democratic Front (LDF). "But the CPM brooks no shifting of loyalties. It will exact revenge on the deserters. But erecting walls and digging trenches on road betray the primitive mindset of the CPM's leadership," said Komath Muraleedharan, CPI's Keezhattoor area secretary.
Apart from the Kariyils, two women working for two CPM-controlled cooperative societies in Taliparamba are also victims of CPM's vendetta, alleged Muraleedharan. "But we will fight back and take on the CPM legally," said Komath, who was with the CPM till last November.
He had created a stir in the CPM when he walked out of the party's Area Committee conference. Later, on November 27, 2021, he led a group of 57 CPM supporters and their families into the CPI. Of the 57 persons, 21 were CPM party members.
On December 5, eight days after the mass exit, the CPM held a massive public meeting at Mandhamkund. The meeting was attended by CPM's top brass such as M V Govindan, E P Jayarajan, M V Jayarajan, P K Shyamala, and James Mathew.
In the meeting, CPM's Kannur district secretary M V Jayarajan announced that the party would bring back all those who left. He meant it. Jayarajan formed a team of 12 senior leaders and they went to the houses of all those who joined the CPI and tried to woo them back. "I was with the CPM for 37 years. Biju Karayil was with the party for 20 years. We left the party because we disagreed with the path it is taking," said Komath.
I was with the CPM for 37 years. Biju Karayil was with the party for 20 years. We left the party because we disagreed with the path it is taking
Komath Muraleedharan, CPI Keezhattoor Area Secretary
Despite the CPM's efforts, not one person returned to its fold, he said. From the initial 57, more than a hundred CPM sympathisers joined the CPI. "Now, the CPI has two branches here, one at Mandhamkund and the other one at Pallayad, with 36 members," he said.
The growth did get the goat of the CPM. On September 13, two women working with CPM-controlled cooperative societies were suspended from service.
A E Manjula (51) was the secretary of Taliparamba Vanitha Service Cooperative Bank since its inception 22 years ago. She was suspended from service without even serving her a show-cause notice. "That day, Manjula suffered breathlessness and went to Pariyaram medical college for treatment. She did inform her staff but she was accused of taking leave without informing the president and was suspended from service," said Komath. The society ignored the doctor's certificate she submitted, he said.
The same day, I M Kavitha, a receptionist with the CPM-controlled Taliparamba Cooperative Hospital, was accused of lying about her health and taking leave two weeks before and was suspended, he said.
Kavitha, an allergy patient, suffered an attack and met a doctor in the same hospital. Based on the doctor's advice, she took leave for two days. But the hospital said she lied and she was photographed during the hospital's Onam celebration, Komath said.
The hospital ignored her explanation. "Kavitha did not take part in the celebration but went to the hospital with her son for Onasadya because she had not cooked food at home," Komath said.
These facts were not sufficient because their husbands were among the 57 persons who quit the CPM and joined the CPI in November, he said.
Kavitha also had been a member of the CPM's local committee and a member of the DYFI's state committee.
Calls made to the Vanitha bank's president Padmavathy went unanswered.
Komath said he saw a pattern in the CPM's action. "It wants to send a message to others who want to leave the party or speak up against its action. The party is using the jobs at cooperative societies as the lever," he alleged.
Apart from the two female cooperative society employees, four collection agents may also face action, he said. Biju Kariyil is among the four.
'Municipality will build road for Kariyil couples'
CPM's Mandhamkund branch secretary was among those who helped Biju Kariyil's cousin Baiju build the wall and dig the trench to block the road of Kariyil Narayanan and Narayani.
And yet, CPM's local secretary Pullayikody Chandran dismissed it as a dispute between two families. "None of the party workers went there. It is a family dispute," he said.
When asked why the party's branch secretary threw his weight behind Baiju, the CPM leader said he went there as a neighbour.
The wall and the trench were built in two nights. Chandran said that was because Baiju could not get any workers during the daytime.
After the wall was built, the Revenue Divisional Officer and the Taliparamba municipal vice-chairman held talks with both families on Tuesday. Baiju refused to even create an opening in the wall for the elderly couple to walk out of their house.
To break the deadlock, the IUML-controlled municipality agreed to set aside funds and build a road over the small stream flowing on the west side of Kariyil's house. "The municipality said they will do it before the rains," said Biju Kariyil.
Till then, Narayanan, who works as a tax consultant in Taliparamba, will have to climb over the wall and go to his office. "They have allowed us to place four stepping stones near the wall," said Biju.