Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Leads Top CPI(M) Leaders in Giving Hero’s Farewell to Party Leader Convicted in Murder Case

File photo of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan.

File photo of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan.

72-year-old PK Kunjananthan, member of CPI(M) area committee at Panur, died of an intestinal infection at Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday night and was on bail on health grounds at the time of his death.

There may not be much debate on the saying - 'One man's hero is another man's villain.' However, the hero’s farewell showered by top brass of the CPI(M) to a local leader in Kerala's Kannur district on Friday has raised many eyebrows.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with Health Minister KK Shailaja, led party leaders in condoling the demise of the leader, who was serving life imprisonment in a political murder case.

72-year-old PK Kunjananthan, member of CPI(M) area committee at Panur, died of an intestinal infection at Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday night and was on parole on health grounds at the time of his death.

Panur, 34 kilometres away from Kannur town, observed a hartal to pay homage to the deceased leader.

Kunjananthan, along with 11 others, was held guilty in the murder of TP Chandrasekharan, who challenged the CPI(M) in its forte and formed the Revolutionary Marxist Party after walking out of the former on May 4, 2012, in Onchiyam, in the adjoining Kozhikode district.

Kunjananthan, along with others, was sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of one lakh rupees in 2014 by a special court in Kozhikode. The conviction of a party leader of Kunjananthan's stature had until then been unprecedented, in the long history of political murders in north Kerala.

CM Pinarayi Vijayan, who hails from Kannur, praised the deceased leader as "a comrade who had utmost love towards the party and exhibited concern towards society as well as the party workers".

"He had won the acceptance as a social worker, and affection of all sections of people in Panur," Vijayan recalled.

CPI(M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who also belongs to Kannur district, went a step ahead and termed Kunjananthan as a 'martyr of institutional terror unleashed by the UDF, (led by Congress)'.

"He was being trapped in a case. Kunanjananthan was a fearless fighter. He was very dear to the people and a relentless worker who was instrumental in setting up the party in the area. He was dear and acceptable even among the political rivals, too. Such a popular leader was trapped in the case by UDF," said Balakrishnan's Facebook post.

Health Minister KK Shailaja, the new champion in the party and the state, called the departed leader as 'one who was acceptable among the rivals for his organisational acumen and courage.'

"Comrade was the source of energy of the party. He was Kunajanthettan (ettan is an elder brother) to all, cutting across party lines, " she said.

His departure is an irreparable loss as he was close to all sections of people, she added.

State minister and CPI(M) central committee member E P Jayarajan said, "Defending the attacks of rivals, Kunjananthan had played a crucial role in building up CPI(M) at Panur region. He had intense passion towards the party." He also termed Kunjananthan as a revolutionary who was hunted down by the right-wing politicians and media.

"He fought the campaign which branded him as a 'terrorist', fearlessly, " said Jayarajan, who was removed as the district secretary after his candidature to 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.

After CPI(M) led the LDF back to power in 2016, the frequent parols to Kunjananthan had drawn flak from the High Court after Chandrasekharan’s widow K K Rama questioned the government’s decisions.

Even during his parole days, Kunjananthan had attended party events and conferences and eventually got elected to the CPI(M) area committee despite his conviction in the murder case.

On March 14, when the High Court allowed Kunjananthan bail for three months for his treatment, the leader had already enjoyed 400 days of parole during the five years of imprisonment.

Kunjananthan was a local leader who did not grow beyond the membership in an Area Committee of CPI(M). However, the allegiance, the affection and the admiration showed by the topmost state leaders of the party on his demise is a clear indication of his fidelity to the party and the mysteries he held close to his heart, till he breathed his last.

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