The Cherthala police arrested six Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers from Vayalar, Kerala, on Friday evening in connection with the murder of a Class 12 student. Earlier, 10 RSS members were booked and remanded in judicial custody. However, the police denied any political motive behind the murder of Ananthu Ashokan, reported The Hindu.

Of the 16 arrested, seven are minors and Ananthu’s classmates. However, one accused is still on the run, Cherthala Circle Inspector VP Mohanlal told The Times of India. The family of the absconding accused are known to be supporters of the Communist Party of India.

Ananthu, a student of Rama Varma Higher Secondary School at Vayalar, was allegedly attacked by an unarmed gang of 17 men when he was returning home on April 5. “Head injuries resulted in his death,” Mohanlal told The Times of India. The Left Democratic Front and United Democratic Front had given a strike call in Alappuzha district on Friday to protest against the murder. State and private buses did not ply and shops and other establishments were closed.

The police suspect that the men had attacked Ananthu because he was in a relationship with a girl, who happened to be the love interest of another teen. “This [love affair] could be the motive. They did not intend to murder him,” an officer told The Times of India.

However, CPM leaders alleged that Ananthu was an RSS activist but was killed because he had distanced himself from the organisation. BJP District President K Soman, on the other hand, told The Hindu that the CPI(M) was trying to politicise the murder.

Kerala has witnessed several political murders since the LDF government came to power in May last year. Both the RSS and the CPI(M) have blamed each other for the bloodshed.