BJP leaders’ silence about the political affiliation of the persons accused of killing an RSS worker has come in for severe criticism.
Shyam Prasad, a student of Government Industrial Training Institute (ITI) at Peravoor of Kannur district, was killed on Friday evening. Five activists of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) accused in the murder were taken into custody soon after, and their arrests were recorded on Saturday.
But the responses by BJP conspicuously avoided mentioning the SDPI, the political party associated with the Popular Front of India (PFI), an Islamist fundamentalist outfit.
The official Twitter handle of the BJP Kerala State Committee sent out a misleading tweet: "Marxist-Jihadi terrorism on again at Kannur as an RSS activist gets hacked to death."
The BJP State President Kummanam Rajasekharan's tweet also kept mum about the SDPI links of the alleged killers.
The report by the Sangh daily Janmabhumi on Saturday morning on the incident also maintained silence about the political affiliation of the accused.
The curious response of the BJP led to allegations that the party is "selling" their own martyrs.
Comments on the social media drew attention to an earlier allegation that the RSS office at Panoor, Kannur was built with the money that the RSS took from the PFI following the murder of Ashwini Kumar, who was the baudhik pramukh of the RSS in Kannur, by alleged PFI workers.
“Stop selling Balidanis” was the refrain in many of the comments on Twitter. Balidani is the word used by the RSS to refer to their martyrs.
The CPI(M) Kannur District Secretariat referred to the alleged RSS-SDPI deal in a statement: "Thirteen years ago, RSS men hacked PFI activist Punnattu Muhammed to death while he was going for namaz in the morning. Following this, SDPI workers killed Ashwini Kumar, who was the RSS district baudhik pramukh and Hindu Aikya Vedi leader. Following this, many houses, shops and vehicles were destroyed in the Iritty-Punnad region. 103 houses were robbed, 40 houses were burned. 18 shops were attacked and plundered in Iritty, Peravoor, Mattannoor towns. It was found that 812 sovereigns of gold were robbed from various houses. Cases which were registered following these incidents were withdrawn following negotiations between RSS and SDPI. That the RSS leadership amassed crores worth of wealth in this manner can be seen if we look around."
While the BJP hinted at the involvement of the CPI(M) in its tweet, Jai Hindi TV (the TV channel associated with the Congress) and Janam TV (the channel linked to the RSS) initially quoted the RSS as saying that the CPI(M) is behind the murder of Shyam Prasad.
There have been several incidents in recent months where RSS activists and those who left the RSS were murdered and the accused also turned out to be RSS activists. A BJP worker was among the accused in the murder of Nirmal, a member of the RSS youth wing Yuva Morcha who was killed in Thrissur in February 2017. The BJP, which had observed a hartal in Thrissur district accusing the CPI(M) of being behind the murder, was stumped when this came to light.
Ten RSS men were arrested in April 2017 for the murder of 17-year old Ananthu, a former RSS worker, after he distanced himself from the outfit.
"It would be good if Swayamsevaks think a bit on their own. Your lives are mere commodities for some to buy rubber estates and new vehicles," said a Twitter user.
Nearly 17 hours after his initial tweet which led to severe flak, Kummanam tweeted out screenshots of news items which refer to the SDPI connection of the accused in the case. The text of his tweets still avoided mentioning SDPI: "Four members of Jihadi organisation arrested in connection with ABVP Karyakarta Shyam's murder".
"Everybody knows that the RSS is taking a soft approach towards the SDPI," said the CPI(M) Kannur District Secretariat's statement.
"The RSS leadership should clarify why they are reluctant to the name the SDPI men who are responsible for the death of the Sangh worker at Kannavam... The RSS is now trying to plunder Muslim houses in Kannavam and to turn the RSS vs SDPI violence into violence between Hindus and Muslims. The CPI(M) requests all sections of people to be vigilent against such attempts and to cooperate in maintaining peace in the district," said the statement.