Persecuting intellectuals, Kerala CPM style

via VR Jayaraj | Thrissur - Daily Pioneer published on August 18, 2009

Marxists in Kerala are known for the procedures of excommunication they adopt towards people who desert the CPI(M) or those who are declared “class enemies” but this intolerance has now grown into a kind of hatred even towards independent writers. Just the other day, Babu Kuzhimattom, a Malayalam short-story writer, was humiliated by the party when he arrived in Thrissur on invitation to inaugurate the students’ union of a senior college by asking him to forget about the programme.

Babu Kuzhimattom has not waged any serious wars against the CPI(M) through literature or on the streets, but he, like many other writers, could have criticized the party’s invasion into cultural groups. But that was enough for the party to declare him an untouchable class enemy.

The writer had reached Thrissur, known as the cultural capital of Kerala, on Monday on invitation to inaugurate on Tuesday the students’ union of Sri Kerala Varma College. The union is controlled by SFI, the students’ wing of the CPI(M). As Babu was taking rest at the house of a teacher of the college, who was also a known poet, after the journey from Thiruvananthapuram, some other teachers and students visited him. All they wanted him to do was to forget about the inauguration and leave the place.

“These students and teachers came to me. The students were not saying anything. The teachers told me that the district committee of the CPI(M) did not want me to inaugurate the college union as I am an anti-communist,” Babu said. The teachers told Babu that the party might turn against them if he entered the college to participate in the inaugural. Babu was offered no valid reasons for the order from the party bosses but the message was clear and he left the place.

“I asked them whether the mighty Marxist party was afraid of me. They had no answer. All they knew was that there would be trouble if I inaugurated the union,” Babu said. “I used to object to the manner in which the CPI(M) used to make incursions into literary organizations and forums. I used to fight against this. This could be the reason for this strange order,” he added.

The students’ union members or the office-bearers of the SFI unit in the college did not want to own up the responsibility for inviting Babu to the programme. The staff advisor for the students’ union said the selection of personalities for such functions was the sole right of the union. The principal of the college also denied any involvement in the affair saying he knew nothing about this as he was on leave.

The teachers who visited him told Babu that the party district committee viewed him as an anti-communist and permitting him to participate in the programme could invite serious actions against them from the part of the party bosses. “This is a novel form of the Stalinist beheading as direct beheading is impossible,” the writer protested, but said he would not participate in the function because those who had invited him were apprehensive of punishment from the party. “I am not associated with any political party. This can be seen only as a move to intimidate those who oppose the Marxists,” the writer said.

Independent intellectuals in Thrissur – the place is known for them – say that there was nothing to be surprised in such fascist methods from the district committee of the CPI(M), controlled by the faction of State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. Just 24 hours before the writer had the bad experience in the hands of the CPI(M), the party had shown the same approach to a former comrade at a public programme.

The Thrissur block panchayath council, controlled by the Pinarayi faction, had on Sunday even violated protocol to keep panchayath member PJ Moncy away from the official Farm Day functions. Mons was last month expelled from the CPI(M) for “anti-party” activities, but officials in the panchayath office said this was no justification for keeping him away from a government programme.

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