Puneet Varma

Political activism in Kerala

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Political activism in Kerala

Direct action and political violence has become the characteristics of Kerala society in India. The state treasury of Kerala has suffered losses of thousands of millions of rupees, thanks to the state staging over 100 hartals annually in recent times.

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Alarming frequency

A record total of 223 harthals were observed in 2006, resulting in a revenue loss of over 2000 crore. There were around 363 of "Hartals", called by different political parties, between 2005 and 2012. Hartals are called for various reasons, political, economic and social. According to the Organisor, Kerala has the highest level of losss of manhours due to industrial unrest and the state has organized the highest number of strikes and harthals in the country.

The epicenter of violence

Kannur is the most violence district in Kerala. In 2016, two political workers called K.Shyju and Sudheesh were hacked to death by their opponents. This happens every month in Kerala. In February, 2016 an RSS activist who was ferrying schoolchildren was dragged out of his autorikshaw and hacked to death. The police suspected the communists for this action. During the last 45 years, about 180 people were killed because of political violence in Kannur district of Kerala.

Kannur is historically linked with rebellion because Guerrilla King Pazhashi Raja fought against the British in this region. Kannur is the homeland of communist veterans like A K Gopalan, E K Nayanar and Azhikodan Raghavan. Most of the victims in political are from the toddy tapper community, which a branch of the Thiyya caste.

RSS - CPI (M) rows

Most often the fight in Kannur is between CPIM and RSS. Sometimes the fight is between CPIM and Muslim unions. A few years ago, in retaliation to what happened in Kannur, RSS workers attacked the CPI-M's national headquarters in Delhi, the CPI-M state secretary in Karnataka, Visakhapatnam and Madurai on the same day.

Vigilanate attacks

Vigilante attacks and moral policing are the most common threats to the tourist industry in the state of Kerala, India. Even though liteacy is high in this part of India, tolerance levels are very low. The remoteness of Kerala from major Indian cities have developed a rural or tribal attitude in the people that doesn't tolerate any challenges to traditional lifestyle and culture. There were several instances of moral policing in Kerala in the 2000s. The people of Kerala are generally educated and tolerant, but religious conservatism is an issues of concern here and unmarried couples can be questioned publicly for holding hands or walking together in a park. Marriage is supposed to be the beginning of any courtship in this part of the world.Young people have been attacked several times for walking together before getting married. Even married couples were attacked under the assumption that they are a pair in love. Visitors are advissed to bring your passport, air ticket and marriage certificate. It is better to avoid expressions as girlfriend, living together and LGBT.

Kiss of Love protest

Kiss of Love protest is a non-violent protest against moral policing which started in Kerala, India, and later spread to other parts of India. The movement began when a Facebook page called 'Kiss of love' called forth the youth across Kerala to participate in a protest against moral policing on November 2, 2014, at Marine Drive, Cochin. The movement received widespread support with more than 154,404 'Likes' for the Facebook page. After the initial protest in Kochi, similar protests were organised in other major cities of the country. It received opposition from various religious and political groups like Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, SDPI, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Sena and Ernakulam wing of Kerala Students Union. On specific occasions but not exclusively, both the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court have made it clear that kissing in public is not an obscene act and no criminal proceedings can be initiated, for kissing in public, through landmark judgments.

What is a harthal

Hartal (pronounced [həɽt̪aːl]) is a term in many South Asian languages for strike action, first used during the Indian Independence Movement (also known as the nationalist movement). It is mass protest often involving a total shutdown of workplaces, offices, shops, courts of law as a form of civil disobedience. In addition to being a general strike, it involves the voluntary closing of schools and places of business. It is a mode of appealing to the sympathies of a government to change an unpopular or unacceptable decision. A Hartal is often used for political reasons, for example by an opposition political party protesting against a government policy or action.

What is a Bandh

Bandh, originally a Urdu word meaning "closed", is a form of protest used by political activists in South Asian countries such as India and Nepal. During a bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike. A Bharat bandh is a call for a bandh across India, and a bandh can also be called for an individual state or municipality.

Legal remedies

In 2015, the provincial government in Kerala introduced a law that tried to control harthals and bandhs. According to this new bill, a notification of three days is required for any public agitation. The draft gives the government powers to cancel a strike announced by any party. A punishment of six months' imprisonment is included in the draft bill.

Leftist inclination

The social thought and behavior of the State in general has a strong inclination towards Leftism and thus the Communist parties have made strong inroads in Kerala. The Malabar region, particularly Kannur and Palakkad are considered to heartland of Communist parties. The Kollam and Alapuzha districts, where trade unions have very strong presence, are generally inclined towards the Left parties; though the UDF have won elections from the constituencies of these districts several times. The largest Communist party in terms of membership is CPI (M) and the second is CPI. Kerala was the first Indian state where the communists were voted to power.

References

Political activism in Kerala Wikipedia


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