Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
On 4th July 2010 a college teacher was attacked at Moovattupuzha in Ernakulum district while he was returning from the church. In the attack one of his hands were severed off and he suffered some other minor injuries. The police have arrested some people in this connection. The police stated that the accused were members of Popular Front of India. Popular Front state leadership immediately condemned the incident and clarified that it is not the organization’s policy to be involved in such incidents. Popular Front also offered complete cooperation in the police investigation.
Neither Communal nor Religious
The attacked teacher is an accused in a criminal case for insulting Prophet Muhammad in most heinous manner in a question paper supplied for internal examination in his college situated in the nearby town of Thodupuzha. This town in Idukki district had seen vehement protests by various Muslim organisations in March last when the question paper incident took place. There is a suspicion that the question paper issue is a part of a major conspiracy to hurt the sentiments of Muslims and incite them. It is likely that the man was attacked because of his role in the question paper issue and definitely not because of his religion or profession. Hence this issue should not be given a communal colour.
There were certain incidents in the recent past which had hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims. In southern Kerala some Christian groups have been secretly distributing books, pamphlets and fliers which abuse the Prophet in most indecent terms. They also tell their followers that Islam is a satanic religion and they should support the Zionist state of Israel as it prepares ground for the return of Jesus Christ. They also support the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and send paramedics, mercenaries and missionaries to Iraq and Afghanistan to support the invasion. They describe it as a golden opportunity to convert Muslims. It is also seen that most of the attacks on Islam and the Prophet come not from traditional Christian churches but Pentecostals and evangelicals financed by rightist Christian groups in the US. They are high pressure missionary groups who raise money on the number of people converted.
In some cases, Christian owned institutions were involved in activities which directly aimed at provoking Muslims. The Christian controlled media in particular spread the canard that Muslim students in colleges are involved in wooing high- born Christian and Hindu girls for the purpose of converting them to Islam and terrorism under an operation plan allegedly named Love Jihad. One prominent Christian priest warned that Kerala would become a Muslim state by 2050. The Jagratha Samiti which is a wing of Kerala Christians Bishop’s Council issued a circular asking the Christians to be vigilant about Love Jihad; Finally the High Court had to intervene to call the bluff.
Not by coincidence certain Christian schools banned Muslim girls wearing scarf in school. During the same period a Christian missionary group published a book abusing Islam and a publishing house released a school text book with Prophet Mohammed’s images. A book containing vitriol against Islam was reprinted and distributed secretly. It is likely that such unfortunate incidents had widened the gap between the two communities and created an atmosphere of mistrust among them. Such incidents are not in the interests of both the communities and also the secular fabric of Kerala.
The media, the CPM and the communal lobby in the police are now using this incident as an excuse for no hold’s barred attack not only on the Popular Front of India but everything related to Islam and Muslims in Kerala. The attack in Thodupuzha was not the first such incident in Kerala. The state has witnessed more gory attacks by organized political parties, Sangh parivar and killer gangs. CPM and RSS are in the forefront of beheadings, choppings and bomb attacks as evidenced by the State Crime Records Bureau. When such incidents take place police usually bring the culprits to book without much hullabaloo. But the current incident was blown out of proportion to blame an organization and a community. Popular Front is relentlessly attacked and Muslim community is made the target. Even the Chief Minister joined the fray accusing Popular Front of planning to make Kerala a Muslim majority state within twenty years. All these were blatant lies as the Front is not involved in missionary work.
It is ironical that both the CPM and RSS which have a long history of being actively involved in all sorts of criminal activities are speaking together against the Popular Front.
Following the incident series of raids were conducted by police in Popular Front offices and residence of its activists. There were unlawful arrests of Popular Front members, breaking into houses at midnight, closing down business and even incidents of physical and verbal harassment of women. Most of the offices and centres of the organization across the state were raided by the police but no objectionable documents or material could be found in any of the offices or centres. Even the offices of the political party SDPI and the human rights organization NCHRO were raided because they protested the police atrocities. The Ernakulam district president of NCHRO was arrested and jailed immediately after he lodged a complaint to National Human Rights Commission about the police harassment of innocent Muslims.
But the police and the communally biased segments of the media propagated that anti-national handbills, books and videos were recovered. The printed materials found at the office were either hand bills or posters related to many public campaigns conducted by the organization. The CD’s were the video documentaries of various public programmes which are sold in public. Every day one political leader or the other raised concern about talibanism and the spectre of Islamic terrorism without even an iota of evidence.
In such a situation our worry is not about what is happening to Popular Front. Actually it is the Muslim community being targeted. Muslims who were poor illiterate and under-developed are now coming up in Kerala. The sections which had so far monopolized education, political power and administration are not happy with the recent Muslim advances. There are reasons to believe that the recent smear campaign against Muslims is part of a wide conspiracy aimed to divert the Muslim attention from the path of development. One of the ways to suppress a community is to suppress its dynamic sections. Popular Front of India has been in the forefront of struggles for reservation in government services and the political empowerment of the Muslims and other marginalized sections of the society. With its presence in many states across India, the Front has become the driving force for change in the Muslim community.
There are two possible reasons for targeting the Muslim community through Popular Front. One would be the growing communal influence in the State Government machinery including the police. CPM in spite of its tall claims of secularism is basically a Hindu party in Kerala. The communal imbalance in the administration and police force leads to discrimination and Islam phobia. Another reason is the local body elections expected in September this year and the state assembly elections next year. The ruling CPM controlled LDF does not expect to return to power and is playing a dirty political game to consolidate the Hindu and Christian communal votes. Those Muslim organizations which once supported LDF have deserted them and they do not expect any crucial support from the Muslims as happened in the previous Assembly elections.
Being an organization which has always adhered to the values of the constitution, we are worried about the transformation of a local incident to a catalyst of communal divide. This is not merely an issue about Popular Front or even the Muslim community, but it is a serious concern for the society. The secular fabric of the country is the most sacred element which binds the nation together and any attempt to destroy the secular fabric of the nation by the communal forces, political parties or the biased media should be stopped to safeguard peace and harmony.
Released in public interest by
Popular Front of India
No 5, 1st Main, 4th Cross, SK Garden,
Benson Town Post, Bangalore
Phone: 080 32957534