Kasaragod: With anger against the ruling CPM boiling over in Kerala after the brutal murder of two Youth Congress workers on Sunday, the police on Tuesday arrested CPM local committee member and main suspect Peethambaran and detained two others for questioning.
Soon after Peethambaran's arrest was recorded by police, Kasaragod district committee expelled him from the party following directions from the state committee.
Three others were already taken into custody by the police on Monday. Apart from this, another CPM supporter whose identity is not revealed has also been detained. According to sources, his car was found abandoned at Pakkam, near Velutholi in Kasaragod district. Police are yet to ascertain their roles in the crime.
Initial reports had claimed that the main reason for the murders was an attack on Peethambaran by Youth Congress workers at a college recently.
Youth Congress workers Kripesh and Sharathlal (Joshi) were hacked to death by a gang of assailants at Kallyott, near Periya, in Keralas's Kasaragod district on Sunday. Sharathlal was an accused in the assault on Peethambaran.
Investigators have already fanned out across the neighbouring areas in Kannur district and the border state of Karnataka. It is suspected that more persons involved in the murders could have fled the state after the crime.
Kannur range IG Balram Kumar Upadhyaya, who is in Kasaragod now, told Onmanorama that more people were being taken into custody and interrogated.
“We have picked up some more people for questioning. As we go by the FIR, the suspects are CPM leaders or workers and the victims are members of the KSU or Youth Congress. From that perspective we call it a political murder. But we are probing other angles, including any local dispute,” the IG said.
In the first information report (FIR) police have registered the case under IPC Section 307 (attempt to murder with intention or knowledge).
CPM local committee member Peethambaran and party workers Reji and Saji (all the three from same area) were the three suspects named in the FIR. According to sources, Sajivan, Dasan and Murali are among seven persons in police custody now. Identities of the remaining persons in custody were not revealed yet.
Peethambaran was seriously injured in a fight over an issue in a nearby college in Munnad, Palathingal. Sharathlal and Kripesh were named accused in the case registered more than a month ago. Kripesh was later removed from the list of accused after his presence in the area could not be proved in the case, but Sharathlal was remanded for 20 days.
Police suspect that this issue could have triggered the enmity between the two groups, leading to the murder that shocked the state. Sleuths are probing if the duo faced more serious threats, other than from the one from this local CPM leader.
Sources revealed that there was also a tiff between people who supported Peethambaran and Sharathlal, both of them part of the same community and coming under the same temple festival committee.
On the day of the murder also, efforts were made by the temple committee for a compromise talk between the two and it failed. Sharathlal and Kripesh were hacked when they were returning from the meeting on the premises of the Devi temple at Kallyott.
About the presence of vehicles from Kannur on the premises of the temple, the IG said many people from outside Kasaragod had attended the temple festival as it was popular among people and being held after a gap of several years.
Guv seeks urgent report
State Governor P Sathasivam Tuesday sought an urgent report from the chief minister on the status of the police probe into the incident.
Opposition Leader in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala met the governor in Thiruvananthapuram and briefed him about the issue,a release from the governor's office said.
Chennithala had informed the governor that the families of the victims were under utmost grief due to their personal loss and delay in arresting culprits.
As Congress continued its attack on the ruling CPM, Pinarayi said the party had never promoted violence and had no role in the killings.
If any CPM activist was found to be involved in the crime, they would never get the party's backing, Pinarayi said, adding that they would not only have to face legal action, but also stern party action.
State CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan also reiterated Tuesday that his party had no knowledge about the twin killings and does not endorse the politics of killings.
Following the killings, senior congress leader Ramesh Chennithala has cancelled the wedding reception of his son Dr Rohith, which was scheduled to be held in Thiruvananthapuram and Haripad on February 21 and 23 respectively.
The amount would be used for conducting the marriage of Kripesh's sister, the congress leader said in a statement.