Is Kannur violent or peaceful? CM Pinarayi in two minds

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made conflicting statements in the Assembly on Wednesday while speaking about the accidental bomb blast that killed an 86-year-old man, K Velayudhan, at Eranholi near Thalassery on June 19.  Velayudhan was collecting coconuts from his neighbour's deserted plot when he spotted a steel box. Curious, he tried to open the box. It exploded.

Initially, while objecting to the adjournment motion moved by Congress MLA Sunny Joseph on the issue, the Chief Minister gave a clear hint that all was not well in Kannur. "Considering the fact that such incidents are being repeated in certain areas of Kannur, the police would be told to intensify their raids," the Chief Minister said, suggesting a certain worry about Kannur. 

But a while later, apparently eager to counter the bloody image of Kannur that Sunny Joseph had painted, the Chief Minister seemed to suggest that the district had outlived its violent past. "Kannur is not like before. It is a district where peace prevails. Given the calm in the district, there is no reason why anyone would even think of making a bomb," Pinarayi said.

Opposition leader V D Satheesan seemed taken aback. "In which era are you living," he asked the CM. "In party villages, bomb making is a cottage industry. How many innocents, including children, have been killed by these bombs," he said. 

Satheesan said he had a list of children killed by the crude bombs scattered all over the place. "A child who went to pick a cricket ball from a forest nearby was injured by a crude bomb. These bombs can be found even in the form of ice cream boxes," Satheesan said. "Steel boxes are everywhere. You should put up warning boards across Kannur saying no one should open steel boxes found in mysterious circumstances," Satheesan said.

Sunny Joseph emphasised the CPM role in crude bomb manufacturing. He alleged that partymen had surrounded the area right after the June 18 blast and removed the remaining explosives in the area. "Even the police was let in only after that," Joseph said. The Chief Minister said it was a bit of a stretch to claim that people who rushed to the site after the blast came to destroy evidence. "It is only natural for people to crowd a place where such a thing had happened," he said.

Sunny Joseph presented a ghastly picture of the bomb culture in Kannur. He said that he had moved an adjournment motion two years ago in the Assembly when two Assam natives, father and son, were killed by a crude bomb while searching for scrap. "Then, too, the Chief Minister gave the same reply. Then also he said that extensive combing operations would be carried out," Sunny Joseph said.

He listed instances of people getting killed or injured by randomly placed crude bombs. Omana, an MGNREGA worker, was struck by a bomb while cleaning a drainage tank at Thillenkery. He reminded the House of Amavasi of Panur, a boy who lost his eyes and limbs after a steel bomb exploded on him. Bombs exploded in the most unlikely places, too. In a staff room, from a bomb hidden in the bag of a teacher. It was in this very Panur that a bomb exploded in the hands of a maker, killing him, during the just concluded election campaign period. The victim Sherin has been identified as a DYFI worker. Implicating the CPM further, Kannur's Chettakandiyil was also mentioned. There, in 2015, two CPM workers were blown up by a 'bomb in the making'. Though the party had initially disowned the victims, a memorial was recently opened for both of them. The memorial was supposed to be inaugurated by CPM state secretary M V Govindan but he backed out at the last minute following widespread ridicule and protests. Nonetheless, Kannur district secretary M V Jayarajan himself did the honours. "Are you making martyrs out of criminals," Satheesan later asked. 

Joseph also reminded the House of the bomb that exploded in the hands of CPM leader P Jayarajan's son. "At first, the CPM said it was a Vishu firecracker that had exploded," he said. Satheesan said that the bomb that killed Velayudhan on June 28 was the product of an internal the war in Kannur CPM. "It was made to destroy their own partymen," Satheesan said. Curiously, the Chief Minister did not counter this.

Joseph spoke of other areas where crude bombs exploded: Kudiyanmala, Kathiroor, Pulliyod, Kolari, Kallukkandi, Cheruvanchery, Kakkattil, Maniyoor, Koothuparambu... Satheesan said that 32 people were killed in crude bomb explosions innthe last six years in Kerala. The number of injured in the same period, 89.

The Opposition leader had a poser. "Why are these bombs being manufactured? Since you have entered into a secret peace pact with the RSS, it is clear that these bombs are meant for us," he said.

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