Five persons have been arrested in connection with the brutal murder of 34-year-old RSS worker E Rajesh, as BJP called for a day-long shutdown and Union Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to control political violence in the state between communist and saffron party workers.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said political violence was unacceptable in a democracy, as a spate of political killings have rocked the state. Singh also tweeted saying he expressed concern regarding the law and order situation in the state.
"I have expressed my concern over the law and order situation in the state of Kerala. Political violence is unacceptable in a democracy," he said.
Rajesh was attacked by a gang led by a history-sheeter near Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. His left hand was chopped off. He died at a private hospital today.
BJP's Kerala unit president Kummanam Rajasekharan has alleged that CPI-M cadres were behind the attack, a charge denied by the district leadership of the left party. The main accused isn't a CPM member, ANI quoted the party's state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan as saying.
Police said the suspected main accused was among those taken into custody from rural Kattakkada near here this morning. City Police Commissioner G Sparjan Kumar said interrogation of the accused was going on.
"Five persons are in police custody now. They were taken into custody from rural Kattakkada. A hunt is on for one more person. Only a detailed questioning will reveal the exact number of accused involved in the crime," he told PTI.
State Police Chief Loknath Behera has appealed to the people to restrain from spreading rumours and provocative messages, statements, photos and videos. "Any such action would attract legal action," he said, adding that WhatsApp groups and Facebook posts are under the scanner of police.
State-run and private buses kept away from roads and shops and business establishments remaining closed. Sporadic incidents of stone pelting on vehicles were reported in some parts of the state.
People, who reached railway stations unaware of the hartal, had difficulty in getting vehicles to reach homes. City police has extended prohibitory orders for three more days till August 2 and banned processions in the state capital.
The ruling CPI(M) and the BJP traded charges each other over the killing of the RSS functionary. While Kummanam alleged that the CPI(M) was behind the attack, the CPI(M) district leadership denied any role of the party in the attack.
Describing the murder as brutal, Kummanam said this is "annihilation politics" aimed at wiping off the RSS and BJP. The BJP would take up the matter with the Prime Minister, Home Minister and National Human Rights Commission, he said.
The incident comes close on the heels of the attack on the BJP's Kerala unit office and stone pelting at the house of CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's son Bineesh Kodiyeri.
Congress asked the BJP and CPI-M in Kerala to immediately end violence and came down heavily on both the parties. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala began a day-long fast to protest the bloodshed.