Story Of An
RSS "Liberated Area"
By Mukundan C. Menon
26 May, 2003
What had happened at Marad
in Kozhikode district of Kerala on May 2nd? Rajeev Srinivasan, the Rediff
columnist, termed it as "Second Moplah Rebellion". The columnist
- whom Rediff itself describes as one who "works in sales and marketing
in software industry and spends time in US and India - quoted on May
9 the "reported" facts about Marad as:
1) A group of Hindu fishermen sitting on the beach near a temple is
attacked suddenly, without provocation or warning, by a mob of Muslims
armed with swords (and) after a chaotic ten minutes, nine people are
2) A cache of swords and other sharp weapons, including blood-stained
ones, as well as powerful country bombs is recovered from a mosque in
3) Various politicians make soothing noises, 66 persons have been arrested
in connection with the crime. A judicial inquiry has been instituted;
4) The dead are: Gopalan, Chandran, Santosh, Madhavan, Asghar, Dasan,
Pushparaj, Krishnan, and Prajeesh. One of them had been married for
just five days.
Admitting that he based his
analysis on reports in Malayalam media like Keralakaumudi.com, Srinivasan
found the "local media to be far more accurate and less prejudiced
than the English language media in most cases". He never said that
"Kerala Kaumudi" is the new catch for Sangh Parivar propaganda
in Kerala due to its managements close ties with SNDP leader Vellappally
Natesans new slogan of "Hindu Unity". (Did not local
Gujarati media like "Gujarat Samachar" and "Sandesh"
present "accurate and unprejudiced" version on post-Godhra
Gujarat pogroms than the English media!)
Look at the way the orchestrated
Sangh Parivar propaganda on Marad started from day one:
One of the first VIP to reach Marad was Union Minister of State for
Home, I. D. Swamy, within three days of the killings, on May 5. The
announcement on the previous day came from the BJP State HQ quoting
information received by them from Union Home Ministry in New Delhi.
And, on his arrival, Swamy did not rule out the possibility of "Pak
ISI" behind Marad. But, the disagreement came from the US based
Rajeev Srinivasan to buttress his "Second Moplah Rebellion"
theory: "After all, the Moplahs of Malabar did not need any Pakistani
inspiration when they launched into the terrible riots of 1921 (the
Moplah Rebellion) when they, without provocation, murdered, raped, and
forcibly converted thousands of Hindus, just because distant Turkey
had abolished the Caliphate."
This was in tune with the
well-orchestrated Sangh Parivar chorus unleashed on Marad both at national
and state level: Seeking Central intervention, instituting a CBI probe,
invoking of POTA, allegations of wiping out Hindus from Keralas
coastal zone by "Pak-backed" Muslim terrorists a la Kashmir.
BJP Spokesperson Vijay Kumar
Malhotra said in New Delhi that the Kerala Minister belonging to Muslim
League, P. K. Kunjalikutty, had secured the release of PDP Chairperson
Abdul Nazar Madani from Coimbatore jail after he was arrested on conspiracy
charge in Coimbatore serial bomb blast of 1998 to kill L. K. Advani.
Malhotra ate humble pie since both PDP and Muslim League are not only
at loggerheads in Kerala politics, but Madani still remains in Coimbatore
jail for more than five years now - without conviction and without bail
It was the turn of Union
Minister of State for Defence, O. Rajagopal, to come to Kerala and declare
Kunjalikuttys "hand" behind Marad. It met with stout
opposition from all quarters. Even Chief minister AK Antony suggested
he give his evidence to the investigating agencies. Rajagopal quickly
retracted saying that what he said was what he "only heard"
from several quarters. Since it crossed the parameters of a federal
system of governance, Rajagopal talked with AK Antony at New Delhi and
telephoned to Kunjalikutty "explaining" what he said. Even
thereafter, Rajagopal demanded that a CBI probe was appropriate, instead
of the judicial inquiry and Crime Branch probe already ordered by the
State Government, because of the alleged involvement of a State Minister
in the Marad carnage.
Rajagopal who never
won an election but faced repeated electoral defeats in Kerala, and
became Central Minister by virtue of winning a Rajya Sabha seat from
Madhya Pradesh - misused his position as a Central Minister on earlier
occasions, too. On December 30, 1999, the penultimate day of Indian
Airlines hijacking to Kandahar, when then Foreign Affairs Minister Jaswant
Singh was flying to Kandahar, Rajagopal was addressing a press meet
at Alappuzha Press Club to "reveal" that the Kandahar hijackers
had demanded Abdul Nazar Madanis release from Coimbatore prison
in lieu of the aircraft and the hostages. He was rebuked by Jaswant
Singh himself who said the next day that the hijackers list contained
no prisoner outside Kashmir. Rajagopal never expressed regret, leave
alone giving an apology.
When the Sangh Parivar scheme
of holding a saffron conclave at Changanassery NSS College, with Rajagopal
as Chief Guest, was thwarted by the College management recently, the
Union Minister dragged the name of Prime Ministers office saying
that the PMO was inquiring into it. The PMO kept silent over the issue
apparently because they have more serious topics to handle than a college
issue within a Municipality in Kerala. Here, too, Rajagopal never expressed
regret nor retracted the statement. Spending more in Kerala than in
Delhi, the latest from Rajagopal on Marad was his apprehension of threat
perceptions in Kerala coastal area where, as Defence Minister, he wants
to establish a chain of Coast Guard units including one at Marad! However,
the Kerala Industries Ministry (controlled by the same Kunjalikutty)
had raised objections to it, Rajagopal complained after Marad.
In January 2002 Marad witnessed
a sudden bout of communal violence, arson and looting in which 5 persons
(three Muslims and two Hindus) were killed. "What was the objective
this time", asks Rajeev Srinivasan before quickly presenting the
world his answer: "Possibly to create a communal riot along the
lines of what happened in Gujarat in the wake of the Godhra massacre.
Perhaps to emphasise that in Muslim-dominated Malabar, as in Bangladesh
and Kashmir, it is just fine to murder Hindus. The perpetrators
whoever they are are confident that there will be no consequences."
Also, he throws a question: "What is likely to happen?", and
presents his prediction : "Frightened Hindus will move some place
safer, and one more piece of real estate will become dar-ul Islam, land
of Muslims. This has been happening in other parts of Malabar, for example
Muslim-majority Malappuram district, where Hindus are leaving for less
dangerous places. Yes, the famed Nehruvian Stalinist secularism
in action, yet again."
Amidst this Sangh Parivar
orchestrated campaign, none noticed a few precious notes. The very next
day of the Marad killings, Director General of Police KJ Joseph said
that the "violence were not a riot but murder, pure and simple,
with a communal background". Although this statement came under
sharp criticism of many, it proved correct later when it was identified
that the kith and kin of the Muslims killed at Marad in January 2002
were the kingpins behind Marad 2003. And, those who got killed now at
Marad were the killers of January 2002 and belonging to the Sangh Parivar.
This is especially true with Pushparaj, the local RSS leader, who was
accused in the murder of Aboobecker in January 2002. Incidentally, Aboobecker
was killed when he was digging the grave at the local Mosque to bury
the two Muslims who were killed on the previous day. According to police,
his son and brother, working in Gulf, came back recently to mastermind
the present revenge killing. Both of them, as main accused, apart from
seven others, were promptly arrested on May 19.
Marad can never be equated
with Gujarat. For, no Muslim body or individual openly acclaimed it
with Newtons "reaction to action" theory, as was simultaneously
justified by Narendra Modi and O. Rajagopal on March 2, 2002, amidst
the ongoing Gujarat carnage. On the other hand, all Muslim bodies in
Kerala stoutly condemned the Marad 2003 killings. The same night, Indian
Union Muslim League (IUML) state president Panakkad Muhammedali Shihab
Thangal urged members of all communities to strive to regain peace and
harmony in Marad. "Like the children of one mother, we all should
come out to end this brutality," he said. Terming the violence
as cruel and diabolic, Thangal observed that no religion can justify
a massacre of this magnitude. "All those who are left with an iota
of conscience should isolate the miscreants behind this. We had erased
the bloodstains of last years violence in Marad. It is really
crookedness to take back the village to those days of hatred,"
And, despite this, Union
Minister Rajagopal, and the whole Sangh Parivar, still hammers for CBI
probe into IUML Minister Kunjalikuttys hand behind Marad!
fond prediction also failed to materialize. In fact, instead of a Hindu
exodus after the "second Moplah rebellion" from Marad, what
happened was the Muslim exodus within hours of the May 2 killing. All
the 500-odd Muslim families of Marad moved away. The Muslim-free Marad
is now an "RSS liberated zone". And, Gujarat was repeated
in the form of arson and looting on the emptied Muslim houses. Incidentally,
all those arms recovery started only after the Muslims fled Marad. "Deshabhimani",
the CPI-M daily organ, reported that the police were seizing arms from
places pointed out by RSS cadres. CPM State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan
said on May 15 "The RSS had taken over the control of Marad. The
police force was dancing to the tune of the RSS by not protecting the
Muslim population that had deserted the area. The Muslims in Marad remain
as refugees in their homeland and these innocents are paying the price
for the misdeeds of a handful of fundamentalist elements. The deserted
Muslim houses are being looted with the tacit approval of the police.
The police were searching for weapons only in the houses pointed out
by the RSS."
When Vijayan and other CPM
leaders visited Marad, they made a hasty retreat since the RSS cadres
objected to their presence. When Vijayan said that they came to visit
the houses of those killed, and not an RSS "Shakha", the local
leader Ramesh retorted : "Each Hindu household in Marad is an RSS
Shakha"! On the same day, Antony also visited Marad
only after "getting the permission" of Sangh Parivar leaders
who insisted that other Ministers of his Cabinet present at Kozhikode,
including Kunjalikutty, local MLAs or MP, should not accompany him.
He obeyed and went alone with, of course, strong police protection.
Next day, when Antony went to Kozhikode Medical College to visit those
injured, a local BJP woman leader, threatened to close the doors unless
he promise to release the Sangh Parivar cadres taken into custody. In
front of senior police officers and TV camera, she said : "Or else,
Gujarat will be repeated". And, that was the lone Newtons
theory emerged from Marad so far.
Apart from Minister Kunjalikutty,
the Sangh Parivar ire was also on Kozhikode District Collector TO Sooraj.
In fact, many in Kerala, including this correspondent, learnt that the
Collector is a Muslim only from the blatant communal criticism heaped
on him by the Sangh Parivar, including in the editorial of RSS daily
organ "Janmabhoomi". At the same time, praises were showered
on selective police personnel.
Astonishingly, even Antony
came to know only from Marad 2003 that the chargesheets against the
accused involved in Marad 2002 violence were still not filed. A total
of 392 persons figured as accused in 102 cases registered in 2002, of
whom many in more than one case. Among these accused, the party-wise
affiliation are: 213 belonging to RSS/BJP; 78 CPI(M); 68 IUML; 06 of
Indian National League (INL) ; and one of Congress. Eventually, the
FIRs in all these 102 cases of Marad 2002 were filed on May 15.
Making yet another startling
disclosure on May 16, Antony said there were 182 cases connected to
communal disturbances in the state registered since 1992, for which
chargesheets have not been submitted in courts till date. "I gave
instructions to speed up the proceedings and submit chargesheet in all
these cases, as early as possible." Admitting that he faced lot
of flak over failure in not submitting chargesheet on 2002 Marad cases,
he explained : "That gave me an opportunity to study the records
and I found that another 182 cases were also pending due to the same
reason. These cases include those registered during the LDF rule also.
I will take up all these cases within an year."
It was this type of governance
and rule of law that always give scope for revenge killings. The lapses
of LDF and UDF dispensations in Kerala had given enough scope for the
Sangh Parivar to influence senior police officials, especially after
they occupied Central Governance in 1998. It was on this count that
the 2002 Marad cases were totally neglected since the largest accused
segment belonged to RSS/BJP. It was also due to the belated filing of
the FIRs now that the Sangh Parivar had launched an orchestrated campaign
on 2003 Marad revenge killings - by leveling wild charges against all
those who are Muslim - from Minister Kunjalikutty to District Collector
And, AK Antony always maintains
a posture of being apologetic towards Sangh Parivar so as to compensate
the "sin" of IUML being the second largest ruling UDF partner.
According to Pinarayi Vijayan, it was a shame that Antony chose not
to take Industry Minister Kunhalikutty while visiting the Marad victims
families solely because the Minister belonged to a different community.
Kunhalikutty has been left to remain at the guest house
in Kozhikode. It is clear that Antony is responsible for the Sangh Parivar
allegations against Kunhalikutty," he said.
Marad presented another shock
to Rajeev Srinivasan: "I wonder what the worlds reaction
would have been if the situation were reversed and a Hindu mob had killed
nine Muslims in front of a mosque. Surely Kuldip Nayar and Praful Bidwai
would not have been thunderously silent: they would have badgered the
National Human Rights Commission. The Washington Post and The New York
Times, not to mention The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Indian
Express and The Hindu, would have indulged in en masse breastbeating
about the end of civilisation in India. But I bet, gentle reader, that
this is the first time you have heard of the Maraad massacre. This I
call blatant prejudice and double-standards on the part of the media.
Where is the outrage? Where are the cries for justice? Furthermore,
if by some miracle, Muslim perpetrators in Maraad are brought to book,
Nayar and Bidwai will bestir themselves to defend them, along with SAHMAT,
Teesta Setalvad, and Shabana Azmi. I wonder why it isnt clear
to them that the human rights of the outlaw and the terrorist are not
greater than the human rights of the ordinary citizen."
This was echoed by all Sangh
Parivar leaders of Kerala, including their supreme theoretician P. Parameswaran,
Director of "Bharateeya Vichara Kendram". True, there was
no outcry from the so-called socio-cultural leaders on the expected
lines of Sangh Parivar. Because, everyone knew that what had happened
at Marad now was revenge killing. And, only communal mind-set can identify
communalism in such despicable act of revenge killings. For example,
two years ago at Malappuram, 12-year-old Krishna Priya was raped and
killed. The accused, a Muslim, came out of jail on bail, when he was
killed by Krishna Priyas father, who is in jail now. None termed
these twin incidents either as "communal rape-killing" or
"killing by a Hindu communalist". At Thaickal Beach, Alappuzha
district, clashes between RSS-led Hindu fishermen and Christian fishermen
left five people on both sides dead last year. It was a communal attack
carried out by RSS goons came from outside.
At a Sangh Parivar conclave
at Kozhikode on May 20 P Parameswaran even said that Marad incident
took place due to the failure of IUML to hold talks with RSS as was
done by a section from among the Christians. He said: "The IUML,
which claims to be a secular party, does not want communal amity in
Kerala. Had they been sincere, they would not have spurned the initiative
of the National Minority Commission member John Joseph six months ago
to bring the RSS and the Muslim League to a discussion.
An IUML leader and Member
of Parliament said a firm no to the talks. Had the party
shown some tolerance and wisdom, the atmosphere prevailing now could
have avoided. The dialogue between the RSS and the Christian organisations
has created an atmosphere of consensus," he said. Thus, the Marad
agenda of the Sangh Parivar was clear. If at all an atmosphere of consensus
was created due to the selective Christian individuals talks with RSS
at Palai in Kottayam district, Parameswaran owes an explanation as to
how the RSS made a dastardly attack on Bishop Cooper and other at Thiruvananthapuram
Notably, one of the resolution
at the Hindu meet demanded invocation of POTA against the accused of
Marad killings. The motive was too clear. Kerala is one of the few states
that refused to invoke POTA nor used the earlier TADA.
The Sangh Parivar mounted
its campaign with the sole intention that the Muslims fled from Marad
did not return. And, the Mosque did not reopen. The Hindu meet at Kozhikode
demanded the rehabilitation of "a large number of Hindus"
who were forced to flee after the 1921 "Moplah rebellion"
in lieu of the return of Muslims to Marad. After visiting Marad and
meeting the local "Araya Samajam" leaders, the "Amir"
of Kerala chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami Hindi, KA Siddique Hassan, said
such demands of Hindu organisations "would only serve to reopen
old wounds and further vitiate the atmosphere of communal harmony in
the State, which had already been disturbed by the Marad killings".
The Hindu leaders convention
had made such a demand only to counter a similar demand made by Muslim
organisations to create the right conditions to enable Muslim families,
which had fled Marad after the massacre of May 2, to return home, he
The Muslim bodies demand
to hand over the Marad mosque to Wakf Board found support from AICC
General Secretary Vylar Ravi, MP. Terming the Marad incident as "shameful"
and which deserves "condemnation" Ravi criticized the BJP
for trying to use Marad violence as an excuse to brand Kerala a terrorist
State. "BJPs effort to brand Kerala in this manner tantamount
to "abusing the whole Keralites", he said.
In an attempt to keep up
the Hindutva tempo of Marad, the Kozhikode Hindu meet decided to observe
May 31 as Marad Day at different places of the State by keeping the
urns containing the ashes of those killed at Marad. On June 1, the urns
would be taken to different holy places throughout the State to be immersed
at Thiruvallam, Thirumullavaram, Aranmula, Thrukkunnapuzha, Nagambadam,
Nedungandam, Aluva, Thruprayar, Kalpathi, Thirunavaya, Varakkal, Thirunelli
and Payyambalam Besides, BJP National General Secretary, B. P. Acharya,
declared on May 22 that a team of NDA MPs would soon be visiting Marad
"to take stock of the situation".
Meanwhile, late reports say
that all the Muslim shop-keepers in and around Marad were forced to
close down their establishments under threat from RSS. A large number
of RSS and VHP cadres are still pouring into Marad to make it a liberated
fortress of Sangh Parivar - totally free from the Muslim menace!