KOZHIKODE: Peace talks are not new in violence-torn Kannur. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s peace meeting on Tuesday will end up as just another futile exercise if the parties cutting across political lines fail to reign in their rampageous ground-level workers.
Almost all Chief Ministers of Kerala, at one point of time or another, have intervened to bring peace in Kannur. But all of those efforts were short-lived as violence returned with a big bang each time.
The million-dollar question is whether Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who hails from Kannur, can really foster a peaceful atmosphere in the district. Pinarayi Vijayan is the second CPM Chief Minister from Kannur, after E K Nayanar, to have taken a personal effort in bringing leaders of CPM and BJP together for peace talks.
But police officers, who have put years of service in Kannur, say violence in the area could be quelled only if the police are given a free hand in acting against culprits without looking at their political affiliations. In 1999, Chief Minister E K Nayanar was forced to intervene in the worsening situation in Kannur after the then BJP leaders alleged Nayanar - being a native of Kallyaserry in Kannur - never showed real interest in peace talks.
“Peace talks are the first step toward bringing peace, but they fail because none of the compromise decisions taken in these meetings is followed,” said BJP state general secretary M T Ramesh.
“Peace meeting called by Nayanar would have helped to bring peace had the decisions taken at the meeting been followed. In the peace meeting chaired by Nayanar, it was decided all parties would have a free right to carry out their party work in any part of the district. But this was violated and it resulted in a series of violent incidents. Peace meetings will be successful only if decisions taken in it are implemented with an open heart.”
Between December 1 and 3 in 1999, seven murders were reported in the district, and that too, under the Panoor police station limits leading to the murder of four CPM and three RSS workers.
The most infamous among them was the brutal killing of Bharathiya Janata Yuva Morcha state president K T Jayakrishnan Master on December 1, 1999. Senior CPM leader M V Govindan Master, an active party leader in Kannur, said the party had given a strong message to ground-level party workers violence would not be tolerated anymore.
“The party is making a genuine attempt and the peace meeting chaired by Pinarayi Vijayan has decided to put across a strong message to party workers about the need to bring peace. The decisions taken in the meeting will be followed in toto. We expect the RSS and BJP leadership also to reciprocate and exhort their workers to shun violence,” he said.
After the peace meeting chaired by Nayanar, the government decided to form a special squad under the then DIG (Intelligence) Vinson M Paul who was given a free hand to conduct raids at all party offices, including the CPM, to seize arms and take action against the culprits. Though the police managed to ensure a peaceful atmosphere in the district, it did not take long for violence to return in 2000 with six murders taking place between December 3 and December 5 in Panoor, Kuthuparamba and Mallur.