UDF ups the ante as Shukoor, Shuhaib murders rock Assembly

Ramesh Chennithala, K M Mani and Oommen Chandy.
UDF leaders Ramesh Chennithala, K M Mani and Oommen Chandy.
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The opposition UDF used the last day of the Budget session of the Assembly on Tuesday as a springboard to take its Lok Sabha election campaign to a higher pitch.

Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan's refusal to entertain an adjournment motion on the CBI chargesheet against CPM Kannur district secretary P Jayarajan and T V Rajesh MLA in the Shukoor murder case seems to have come in handy. The opposition has now turned this rejection into a battle against CPM's political violence. The UDF also made it a point to mention that the Speaker had refused any discussion on political murders on the first anniversary of S P Shuhaib's death, a Youth Congress leader allegedly killed by the CPM workers. The UDF leaders called this "fascism".

The Speaker had refused permission for the motion saying that the issue was an old one, had no urgency to it, and also that it had nothing to with the government. The opposition disrupted proceedings even after the Speaker said that he would allow the opposition to raise the issue as a 'submission'. When the slogan-shouting continued, the Speaker had no choice but to rush through the proceedings.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that Rule 50 (under which an adjournment motion is moved) was an inalienable right of the opposition. “The Speaker should not have trampled upon our rights,” Chennithala said.

Chennithala later said it was the rising wave of political murders in the state that had made the issue urgent. “There have been 27 political murders after the LDF government took over,” he said. Chennithala said that the issue had to be raised as it involved mob lynching. He said that the 19-year-old Shukoor was pulled out of his house, subjected to a public trial, and then lynched.

“He was hacked 27 times,” Chennithala said. “All of us had reacted with shock at the mob lynchings carried out with impunity by the BJP. The Shukoor murder was another instance of mob lynching by the CPM. I would like to know how the CPM leadership would react to their own cadre indulging in mob lynching,” the opposition leader added.

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader M K Muneer said that Shukoor had told his killers that he had not waylaid the car in which P Jayarajan and T V Rajesh were travelling. “Still, they killed him. He was only a boy, young enough to be Jayarajan's grandson,” Muneer said. It is said that Shukoor was killed in retaliation for blocking Jayarajan's car.

Jayarajan and T V Rajesh are the 31st and 32nd accused in the CBI chargesheet. Congress MLA Sunny Joseph, who sought to move the adjournment motion, said that both murder and conspiracy charges had been slapped on the CPM leaders.

Chennithala said that it was the duty of the opposition to highlight the seriousness of the issue in which a sitting MLA has been implicated. “I don't think this has ever happened in the history of the state,” he said. “The CPM should not forget the ruckus they had created in the Assembly when the commission probing the Koothuparamba firing (in 1994) had made some adverse remarks against M V Raghavan (who was then minister in the UDF cabinet),” he added.

Muneer said that the CPM was now attempting to accord the protection of the Parliament to Jayarajan by making him its candidate in Kannur. Chennithala said that MLAs and MPs had immunity only in civil cases, and not criminal cases.

Muneer, however, was evasive when he was asked whether the IUML would take action against its members who had altered their testimony in favour of the CPM leaders in the Shukoor case. “That is for the local leadership to decide,” he said.

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