The Kerala police have upped their street presence in communally sensitive spots in the State following the targeted slaying of Popular Front of India (PFI) leader A. Subair, 47, in Palakkad on Friday afternoon.
The killing had arguably raised the communal temperature in Kerala, with the PFI accusing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of orchestrating the murder to exact retribution for the slaying of its worker, Sanjith, in Palakkad in November last.
The RSS and Bharathiya Janata Party have denied any role in Subair’s killing. The PFI had earlier denied any role in Sanjith’s murder.
A senior police official said an armed gang travelling in two cars had ambushed Subair and his aged father. They were returning home on a motorbike after attending Friday prayers at a local mosque when the attack happened.
He said the Palakkad police suspect that the late RSS leader Sanjith owned the vehicle found abandoned at the crime scene.
The District Police Chief Palakkad, R. Vishwanath, is investigating the case.
The police have expanded their investigation to neighbouring States.
Law enforcers have also reportedly prepared a list of RSS “safehouses and supporters” who have come under a cloud of suspicion in the murder’s aftermath.
The police fear that extreme fringe elements on either side of the political spectrum could capitalise on the charged atmosphere in the wake of Subair’s murder to foment communal trouble.
According to State police, Subair’s killing had the stamp of a typical mafia-style hit-and-run operation, as witnessed in the back-to-back political murders in Alappuzha in December last.
Armed assailants travelling in cars had waylaid Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) State secretary K. S. Khan and fatally stabbed him. Hours later, in a case of suspected retaliation, an armed gang hacked to death local BJP leader Ranjith Sreenivasan as he stepped out of his home for his routine morning walk.
The Alappuzha police had drawn flak for the arguably lackadaisical response to the crime. Later, the police arrested a set of SDPI and BJP workers allegedly connected to the twin murders.
Meanwhile, State Police Chief Anil Kanth has asked District Police Chiefs to intensify patrolling to prevent tit-for-tat attacks, as seen in Alappuzha.
He has asked SPs to take necessary steps, including preventive detention, to preempt vested interest from weaponising the tense situation.
Mr. Kant has also ordered overt and armed police presence on the roads at night. The police have also posted armed pickets in front of select BJP and SDPI offices in north Kerala.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] legislator from Malampuzha, A. Prabhakaran, said a conspiracy seemed afoot to degrade the law and order situation in the State. The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) opposition was yet to react.
Scores of PFI held marches in Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram to protest Subair’s murder.