Tharoor Line | Violence, by anybody, for any reason, is unacceptable

A Subair, A Sreenivasan
A Subair, A Sreenivasan

The grim tragedies of twin political murders in Palakkad last week have shaken our state. Last Friday afternoon, the PFI’s Elappully area president, A Subair, was hacked to death. On Saturday afternoon, A Sreenivasan, an RSS worker and former office-bearer, was attacked and killed by five people who stormed into his shop in Melamuri. The PFI alleges that the RSS-BJP was behind Subair’s murder; the BJP district leadership denies the allegation. The FIR calls Subair’s death a “political murder”. On Tuesday, the police arrested three workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the murder, saying it was an act of revenge for the murder of a RSS worker, Sanjith, in November last year. In turn, BJP President K Surendran, decrying Sreenivasan’s killing, alleges that “the PFI plans to trigger violence across the district.” He has announced a BJP campaign against “religious terror” in the State.

Public opinion has reacted predictably to the news of the killings. Recriminations abound over who instigated the violence, whether retaliation was justified on the eye-for-an-eye principle, and inevitably over which community the victims and perpetrators of violence belong to. Complicating matters, the CPM’s central committee member and Kerala minister M V Govindan this week said that majority fundamentalism was more dangerous than minority fundamentalism. “Majority fundamentalism is working towards the formation of Hindu Rashtra,” he stated. “Minority fundamentalism emerges to resist majority fundamentalism.” Surendran promptly retorted that the CPM’s “tacit support for minority fundamentalism” would turn Kerala into Kashmir. “The CPM has an alliance with communal forces,” he averred.

It is time for both sides to stop these destructive trends in our political discourse. The fact is that all these issues are really beside the point. From the point of view of a State that is pledged to uphold the rule of law and maintain law and order, it cannot matter who struck the first blow, whether it was out of revenge for a previous blow, or whose fundamentalism is really to blame. Let us be clear: if you want peace to reign, all acts of violence must be equally condemned. It is irrelevant who first resorted to violence, which community they belong to or what their agenda is. Any act of violence is wrong, and impermissible at any time.

In short, the State must seek to prevent any and all acts of violence, and if it fails to prevent violence, it must act swiftly and decisively against it when it occurs. For all decent human beings living in our State – who constitute the vast majority, despite the overheated politics of extremism that attracts the headlines -- the message to the political class is simple and unambiguous: there are no justifications or excuses for violence at any time. Any resort to violence, by anybody, for any reason, and whatever the provocation, is wrong and the authorities must not tolerate it.

Do not waste time looking for whom to blame, who started it, whether they have a communal or a political agenda, or who used the larger weapon. Do not be tempted into the trap of framing guilt and responsibility in communal terms. These things simply do not matter. What matters is that blood was spilled, and it should not have been.

Violence has no place in our society, or in our democracy. Debating reasons for it legitimises the unacceptable.

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