Kerala political clashes toll seven, Congress for central forces

March 8th, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by admin  


Thiruvananthapuram/Kannur, March 8 (IANS) The Congress party in Kerala Saturday demanded that central forces be called to restore calm in Kannur district, where clashes between the cadres of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have claimed seven lives so far. “While peace has disappeared from the constituency of Kerala’s Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at Thalassery in Kannur, both Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Balakrishnan are away in Delhi. The police seem to be sleeping in the troubled areas and hence only central forces can do the job,” state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala told reporters in state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The toll in the political violence rose to seven as a 45-year-old BJP activist succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Kannur early Saturday.

The deceased, K.V. Surendran, was attacked by a gang at his home late Friday.

Two people, reportedly CPI-M activists, were meanwhile injured in an attack at Thalassery, 20 km north of Kannur. The police have arrested 17 people in Thalassery so far.

While talking to reporters after an emergency party meet, Chennithala demanded that Balakrishnan should immediately resign because he was unable to do his job.

“When we ruled during 2001-06, Kannur was peaceful and this happened because we gave a free hand to the police to do their job. Today that is not happening and it is clear that the police are unable to do their job because of political interference,” he said.

Kannur district has been a hotbed of political violence between the CPI-M and the BJP-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) combine.

The current bout of violence started when an RSS leader was attacked in Thalassery town Wednesday. Three people lost their lives later Wednesday in retaliation by RSS and BJP and in counter attacks by the CPI-M. While one person was killed Thursday, two others were murdered Friday.

Senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said in Kochi that the state government had failed to maintain law and order in Kannur.

“L.K. Advani has spoken to Home Minister Shivaraj Patil and has urged the centre to intervene to protect political opponents. Our party is sending a delegation to Kannur,” Naidu said.

Leader of opposition Oommen Chandy, meanwhile, is to observe a protest fast at Kannur Sunday, appealing for peace.

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