A worker of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was hacked to death by a group of unidentified persons in Malampuzha village of Kerala’s Palakkad district on Sunday night, The Indian Express reported.

The dead has been identified as 40-year-old K Shajahan. He was killed at around 9.15 pm near his house.

Shajahan has been accused of murdering of a Bharatiya Janata Party leader in 2008, according to the Hindustan Times. “We suspect this to be part of a political rivalry,” an unidentified police officer said, according to ANI.

However, Police Superintendent R Vishwanadh dismissed the claims about political rivalry, reported The Indian Express. Eight persons were involved in the murder but it was too early to talk about the motive, he added.

A witness to the killing, however, claimed on Monday that the eight men linked to the murder were associated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The witness, Suresh claimed to be Shajahan’s friend, alleged that two men named Sabari and Aneesh killed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) worker. He also claimed that Sabari and Aneesh were associated with the party as well.

“They had a dispute over subscribing to the CPM daily Deshabhimani,” he claimed. “Shajahan was not subscribing to the party newspaper.”

On Sunday, Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator A Prabhakaran claimed that no political tension was prevailing in the region. The next morning, the Communist Party of Indian (Marxist) state secretariat too referred to the killers as “anti-social elements who want to foment riots in the state’’, without mentioning their political affiliation.

However, later in the day, the party issued a statement, blaming the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for the murder.

“It is a habit of BJP-RSS to kill CPI(M) workers and then unleash a baseless campaign,” the CPI(M) said in a statement. “In this case also, the BJP has started false propaganda with the help of the media.’

A number of activists belonging to the two parties – CPI(M) and BJP – have been attacked in Kerala over the past decade and a half.

Though there are no official figures, data obtained from a Right to Information query showed that 30 workers each from both sides have died between 2000 and 2016. The state’s Kannur district alone reported 69 political murders in this period.