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Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Severed head then, A Severed hand now

Radhakrishnan was a quiet, slightly effeminate boy who was with us in the High School at Ottapalam. He was never involved in the countless fights we boys got into almost every day. I don't think any of the teachers had any occasion to reprimand him. His father was a Post & Telegraph employee who used to deliver the occasional telegrams. The postal department had not split into India Posts and BSNL in those days. He had either a squint or 'cat's eyes', I don't now remember which .He was also an amiable guy like his son. After High School I did not see much of Radhakrishnan or his father as I shifted to Govt. Victoria College, Palghat for my degree course.
That is why the news that Radhakrishnan was with the Naxalite gang which beheaded Kongad Narayanankutty Nair after an on the spot, mock trial came as such a surprise. He was one of the minor participants and was among those convicted in the subsequent trial. I don't think he actually participated in the gruesome beheading. He might have been seeing Narayanankutty Nair for the first time that night. The leader of the gang was Mundur Ravunny who was released after serving his life term and is now leading the militant organization 'Porattam'. Perhaps details of the operation were shared among the participants on a need to know basis. I would like to believe that Radhakrishnan would have been miles away had he known he was to participate in an execution or murder depending upon your political convictions.
"And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. Che Guevara".

I do not think Radhakrishnan had that kind of pure hate against anyone.
So how did he become a naxalite? He was not a great reader and I don't think he, on his own, read any of the recommended readings for a revolutionary like the books of Mao, Che or Regis Debray. Perhaps he may have been attending study classes conducted by Venu or Ravunny. There was a school teacher, Raghavan, who had intellectual pretensions (which in those days meant adherence to left leaning ideology) and who, I am told, developed too close a liaison with Radhakrishnan's family. He is not alive now. Possibly he may have influenced Radhakrishnan.
Sebastian was another guy I knew among the 'dramatis personae' of the Kongad tragedy. He surfaced in our area one day from some place in Central Travancore and latched on to Chettur Balakrishnan Nair who was distantly related to me and whom we used to call 'Kuttama". Kuttama was a totally apolitical person but had a weakness for women and wine and delusions of grandeur. Sebastian expertly stroked his ego and became an inseparable companion. I did meet him several times in the company of Kuttama. He was more of a mercenary than a revolutionary. He was one of the principal accused in the Kongad murder case and got a life term. I have no difficulty visualizing him hacking away at Narayanan kutti Nair's neck not because of any extreme revolutionary zeal but because, in my estimate, he was totally amoral. I have no idea what became of him after his jail term. Kuttama paid a great price for his association with Sebastian. Sub Inspector of Police of Ottapalam Police Station who was one of the investigating officers made his life miserable for quite some time. Perhaps fitting justice for what he did to the Namboothris of 'Swarnath Mana'
Chacko was one other guy belonging to the gang whom I may have seen. He was a brilliant student of Victoria and a couple of years my junior. In those days of shortages and general despondency, it was quite natural for any sensitive youth to be attracted by the extreme left thinking. The romantic aura surrounding the life and death of 'Che', the 'Revolution in the Revolution' of Regis Debray, the defiant poems of Chullikad, the happenings in intellectual Bengal, the disillusionment with the Communists who came to power through the ballot box and were corrupted by the system, all were powerful motivators for the youth of those times. Most sympathized with the extremist ideology, some embraced it. Chacko apparently did.
I also knew by reputation Narayanankutti Nair and his elder brother Chinnakuttan Nair. I am told they usually were among the first to visit the Mankara Police Station whenever there was a change in the incumbency of the Sub-Inspector. By all accounts, these brothers were a law unto themselves until the British Govt dispatched a platoon of policemen to arrest Chinnakuttan Nair. He was handcuffed and paraded in the streets of Palghat. That was the beginning of the end of their hold over the Region. But I still think that the fact that V.N.Rajan, son-in law of Narayanankytty Nair and an IG of Police at that time, was expected to be there may have influenced the target selection. Narayanankutty Nair was already a spent force when the Naxalites struck. What the Naxalites wanted to demonstrate was a brazen defiance of the establishment.

The discontent seems to be back. There are enough signs of a coming turbulence. I do not mean the survival struggle of the tribals in Chathisgarh or the pathetic efforts of Janu, llaha Gopalan etc and the sporadic violence the movement generates. What would pose immense danger to our way of life in Kerala in the near future is the fatal fascination of the Muslim youth for the extreme religious beliefs. Religious fanaticism is being fomented with the blessings and funding of the Saudi Arabian Wahabis, ISI and Taliban outfits.

There is an ill wind blowing across Kerala. Ominous clouds portending the coming storm have appeared in the horizon. A population pampered by a moderate, benign weather, not exposed to any serious war or natural calamities, whose perception of terrorism is an occasional visual clip in TV from Kashmir or Gaza is about to experience a severe winter of discontent. Perhaps, it is time the smug Malayalee got a real jolt.


  1. The situation is really loaded.But the rulers and the rulers in waiting are openly turning a blind eye to it.There is need for a churning over.Teaching human values is the need of the hour.But who will listen?

  2. K.G.Mukundan wrote:

    Radhakrishnan is the son of late Govindan who was often seen delivering telegrams on an old bicycle in Ottapalam. He had some difference in the eyes as you remember. He was living with his family in a lane near the Railway Station in front of the Imperial cinema which was built later.

    I think Raghavan in your passage must be Raghavan Master with whom Mrs.Govindan (whose name sounds as Mookambi Amma, she used to come to A.G.Nairs household as a housemaid) eloped with. This person used to come to Chandran's Metro and is in fact the person who introduced me to VKN. About a couple of years before I chanced to meet him in a bus with his young daughter (or was it Govindan's)

    Radhakrishnan is a Srambikkal family member. His father was a Panchayath employee who lights the oil street lamps then.He was living behind my house but left for Manissery a since a year or so with his family. His profession used to be of a wire-man who undertake domestic installations and repairs mostly.

    I had engaged him several times and found him to be always exaggerating his professional knowledge and experiences when working but the repairs he did were always short-lived.

  3. Unnikrishnan Vappala to me:

    Topical and very candid, indeed. A pleasure to read.
    I think the comparison stops with the brutal act. While the earlier incident was inspired by a romantic attraction (mostly college students) to an ideology the later stems from intolerance and bigotry. If not nipped in the bud this could be ominous. Let's hope this was just a one off incident.

    I vaguely remember Mr Ravunni, a spent force by then, being rehabilitated by a bank loan while we were in Palakkad. Radhakrishnan ,whom I have not met ,could have been a foot soldier at the best. Little chance he could have been indoctrinated by Raghavan Master.(you have mentioned he is no more, may his soul rest in peace) whom I came to know a few years later during the Emergency days. The Venu you mention is not the radical thinker/writer whom you find making an appearance in TV discussions.

    I find your posts are timed early morning! At your creative best at Brahma Muhurtham?
    Brought me memories of Metro Chandran. Wonder where the youngsters of Ottapalam hangout!
    Recently on my way back to Ottapalam from Palakkad, chose to travel via Kottayi, Kaalikavu and Mankara. Pristine glorious paddy fields and leisurely life.

  4. Hi
    where is Rahakrishnan now?
    will you be able to help find his address if he is alive?